We arrived early, while there was still plenty of daylight left. I opened the back of the silver minivan and removed the radio flyer wagon, at which time, three of my four children removed their fold-able camping chairs…placed them in the wagon…and then climbed into the wagon. My wife picked up the youngest child and carried her while I strapped two camping chairs to my back and shoulders and pulled the loaded radio flyer up the hill. The next three blocks must have been torture for my poor children…because all I heard were their complaints about the bumps…the crowdedness…how slow I was going and each other’s bad breath.
“Do you want to walk and pull this wagon up this hill?”
“No…but can you go faster? I am tired of riding…”
Ok…that didn’t seem to quite sink in. We arrived at the top of the grassy knoll…no not that grassy knoll…and set up our chairs. We all sat down and waited. As the sky grew darker and darker, my eager children kept begging for the event to start.
“It will start when it’s dark.”
“Is it dark yet?.”
“Does it look dark?”
“No, it is not dark yet…at least…not dark enough.”
“How about now?”
“Yes…it should start soon.”
The sky lit up and the sound resonated with the echoing resonating noise. My two youngest children both began to cry…”I’m scared.”
“Scared!? This is what we came for…this is why we are here!”
“I don’t like it…can we go home?”
“NO!!! Absolutely not!”
The fireworks continued for the next 20 minutes or more, ending in a ruckus of chaotic sparks, lights and bangs.
When the fireworks finished, we made our way back to the silver minivan…loaded up the chairs and the wagon…and started the engine.
“Hmmm…that’s curious…the dash lights aren’t working.”
“Just go! The headlights are on…we can go!...Go go go! Before we get stuck in all of this July 4th traffic!”
“Ok! Ok! We are going.”
We swiftly made our way out of the city and pointed ourselves south onto the highway.
I used the dome light to see the speedometer and then set the cruise, and on we went.
Everyone who was passing us…was honking and curiously seemed angry. Perhaps they were the ones sitting behind our squirly crying children during the fireworks. People flashed their lights at us on their way by. Some stuck their faces out their windows like a young beagle to shout things at us as puttered along. After about 25 miles I decided that I had better check it out. I pulled the vehicle to the side of the road and walked to the back and saw that there were absolutely no lights working on the rear of the vehicle. “Oh!” I thought, “That is why the dash lights weren’t working…that makes sense.”
Apparently, somewhere along the journey a fuse had been blown and now we had no lights to reveal the backside of our vehicle or dash lights to tell us how fast we were going. There is only one way to repair this issue…replace the fuse. The problem was, that I was out on the highway and I did not have any extra fuses. We did the only thing any sensible American male with a van load of kids could do…we drove on.
When a fuse breaks, whether it is in your home or in your vehicle, there is always only one solution. The fuse must be replaced. Every year as Christmas approaches I remember an amazing story of replacement that never gets old for me. In fact, it continues to resonate stronger and stronger, it seems, every year. It is more than a Christmas story, it is a Gospel story. You might think that I am referring to the story of the birth of Christ…which is only partially accurate. The story that I remember is the story of Abraham and Isaac…where a picture is painted of a coming sacrifice…a story that promises a “replacement.” As Abraham is about to sacrifice his son Isaac…God says “stop!” and then provides a replacement. God provides a ram instead of his son. Then we come to the Christmas story…where God provides His Son…as a replacement for us. Like a blown fuse that has left us in the dark…unless something is replaced…we are out of luck. When I think of how Jesus to our place…I am out of words.