• Clarice Aeby

The pause after the fireworks


Any day, experiences can burst into our lives that invite a pause, but I’ve come to expect them more on special holidays, even the 4th of July, given to celebrating freedom.

So I began the day Wednesday with eyes wide open. First watching a long run.

Eugene’s 45th annual “Butte to Butte” race might initiate one of those pauses, I thought. Eugene is a running town for the elites, but it’s also a runner’s town for regular folks. And this event (for a few it’s a race) is designed for children, for moms and dads pushing strollers, for the brave in wheelchairs, for the aged, for the tutu-wearing girlfriends and more. The Butte to Butte has options – long or short distances, walk or run possibilities. The opportunity for people-watching is addictive – and from 7:00-9:30 a.m. I was mesmerized.

The third place winner in the 10K captured my attention. After his exciting, high-speed finish, he jogged back a block – to the orange, waist-high cones that signaled a turn to the Finish Line. With adrenalin still seemingly present, he tapped the cone hard and looked the next 10-minutes of runners right in the eye shouting to each one: “RUN HARD… NOW!” Was it his overflowing feeling of finishing well that compelled him to pass it on?

Could I be such an enthusiastic encourager to fellow travelers of faith? Do I have to first win the race – or at least come in third – to earn a hearing? A moment to pause and wonder.

As the day progressed – family and friends met for a barbeque. Children shared stories of a nearby, small-town parade and candy caught. Then the neighborhood fireworks with breeze-blown smoke and loud squeals of sheer delight finished the day.

For me, this July 4th, it would be a short walk with my 11-year-old grandson that moved me to that moment of anticipated pause.

I asked him if he’d be willing to walk with me to my car. We spoke about the highlights of the day and his anticipation of being able to be one of firework lighters next year when he was 12, a promise made by parents. We held hands softly and I quietly said, “Thanks for helping. In the dark I have a hard time with depth perception.” And in a split second his hand tightened around mine and his slender, muscular arm pressed against my side. Like a gifted lead in a waltz, his gentle pressure led me around the potholes. As I opened my car door, he hugged me and said, “Grandma, I love you.”

And that was the experience, the Sudden Pause, God designed to teach me yesterday.

God is always near, like young Isaiah was in the dark walk, but it is when I call out that His Presence becomes real.

But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help.

He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.

Psalm 18:6 NLT

Recently, I was in a short season of forgetting who God said I am: His beloved child, receiver of forgiveness, recipient of both His grace and His song of love. My temptation to believe a lie did not distance God from me… but I felt only His soft touch. It was when I cried out that I experienced His strong grip and His sure guidance.

I will look back on July 4, 2018 as the day God reminded: when I feel distressed, cry out. I’m grateful for the firm grip of a loving grandchild and the Surprise Pause the Lord lovingly orchestrated for me.

TO CONSIDER: In reflection, pause to consider a moment when God’s Presence became more real to You.

Thanks for sitting still with me today.

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