Wednesday morning, July 4th, about 40 people from Orange Friends Church participated in the Orange Township Independence Day Parade. We donned bright orange t-shirts with the message on the back, “Connecting with God, Connecting with Others”. After fueling up with milk, juice and Krispy Kreme donuts (Thanks, Jeff!), we were ready and anxious to begin handing out candy, flyers and pens to people who had been lining up along the road since early that morning.
When we began moving about 10am, the sun had already been baking the blacktop, and the hot air rising from it was nothing less than oppressive. It was exciting, though, to see people waving flags, cheering, and holding out bags trick-or-treat style to receive whatever coupons, treats, etc. were being given away.
About halfway through the 2-mile or so parade route, as the candy started to run low and the heat began to take its toll on our initial enthusiasm, the pace slowed down a little. Parade participants and observers alike were sporting red cheeks and wet brows, but still the crowd’s attention was drawn to see what the next group in the parade would be handing out. At one point, I ran out of candy – gasp! The expression on the faces of the people who were expecting to receive something but realized I had nothing to give them, was burned into my memory and I kept thinking of it later, and throughout the day. “Lord, is that was it was like when the crowds pressed in around You, with all their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs? Your compassion for them, and for us, is so great. Does it break Your heart when circumstances prevent us from receiving what You want to give…?
From the perspective of a giver yesterday, I absolutely delighted in placing candy and OFC pens into the hands of grateful recipients. It was fun to see the little ones smiling, waving, jumping up and down, looking earnestly and expectantly into our faces to make sure we didn’t miss them. Is that how we are when we come to our Heavenly Father? Or are we like the people who were sitting comfortably in their chairs a good distance from the road, detached, looking ahead or behind, checking their phones and their watches, wondering when the parade would be over, making plans for what they would do later, etc...? Do we ever show up to our quiet time or to church Sunday morning, our heart not really in it, not expecting to receive anything great, just so we can mark it off the list, and say that we went?
Today when you meet with the Lord in public or in private, ask Him to bless you with enthusiastic, expectant hope. Start thinking about it now, and anticipate an amazing encounter with the King of all kings, the Savior of the world, who rewards us with the gift of his Holy presence…where we’re changed, healed, inspired, and strengthened.
Yeah, that’s what I want. More than any piece of candy. J
Matthew 9:36: "When Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; he had compassion on them and healed their sick." (ESV)
Psalm 62:5: "My soul, wait in silence for God only; for my expectation is from him." (ASV)
Psalm 71:5: "For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth." (NIV)