It was about 15 years ago, we — the Nold family — were on our way back from a conference and tomorrow would be Sarah’s birthday — July 4th. We were somewhere in Ohio, so we told Sarah it was her choice, we can spend the night in Ohio and go to Ceder’s Point on her birthday, or we can keep driving and go to the State College fireworks extravaganza on her birthday.
So there we are walking around the Bryce Jordan Center on July 4th. Sarah’s choice — the fireworks. The fireworks are a big deal in State College, lots of people. We sampled some of the festivities and towards evening we made our way to our mini-van parked in a nearby field. Our plan was to watch the fireworks from there. Lynn climbed into the van with Jake (about 3). She wrapped him in blankets so he couldn’t hear the fireworks — unfortunately earlier that evening we found that he was deathly afraid of fireworks. Sarah (about 7), Katy (about 5) and I climbed up on top of the mini-van with blankets to watch the display.
Sarah sat beside me. Katy sat on my lap. I was rubbing her ear (she had an ear ache) and holding her. The fireworks were incredible…choreographed to the music…and there off in the background… occasionally God got in on the act with a bolt of lightening and I’m thinking there’s a good illustration for a future sermon — no matter what we try to do, God can do more and better. But after awhile, I thought, “no…frankly God, the fireworks are producing more wonder and awe in me than those piddling little lightening strikes.
That bothered me…we shouldn’t be able to do anything better than God…It bothered me that the fireworks might produce more awe in me than something God could do.
And then I looked at Sarah, it’s her birthday and all day long I’ve been doing everything I can to make her day special — give her a birthday she will remember. And then I looked down…at Katy lying in me arms…her face was shillouted by the light of the fireworks… and as I looked at my daughters, God spoke in my heart. He said, “THIS IS WHAT I CAN DO…” and I said, “Awwwwh”
And in that moment I was just overwhelmed with love for my daughters. I sat there, watching Katy, and the fireworks, watching Sarah watch the fireworks. It was like a hallmark movie moment — background music, fireworks and this love-burst in my heart. We were having a moment. In between fireworks…I leaned down and whispered in Katy’s ear, I said, “Katy, oh Katy, I love you so much.”
And she looked up at me…with a Katy kind of look and in a lilting musical voice said………..”I don’t care.” :) And the hallmark moment dissolved. Oh but I’m convinced that if she would have known the intensity of the love that I felt for her in that moment. She never would have been able to look at me and say, “I don’t care.”
See the problem is we don’t know. We just don’t know how much we are loved by God. People don’t care about God, because very few people really believe that God loves them. But I am convinced that if we could experience the intensity and the reality of God’s love…we would not be able to look to the skies and whisper, I don’t care.
Have you ever been loved like that? I mean with great intensity, a strong, forever, maybe even reckless kind of love. When we’re loved like that it does something to us. You know? It’s exhilirating. To be loved like that gives you this kind of courageous self-confidence & contentment, like I think I can do anything, but I need nothing. I will fear no one, if I know you will love me like that forever.
That’s what I think of when I see the cross. God looking down at us and saying, “I love you so much.” How could I ever tell him that I don’t care?