A faint streak of light rapidly wormed its way through the black sky, like a dragon lurking beneath the dark waters of the sea. A few seconds later it exploded into an array of colors. The spindly, blue and red octopus arms of the sphere drooped toward the ground leaving a gold trail of pixie-dust in their wake, and then died out. Meanwhile another streak of light silently snaked through the sky and exploded into fifty arms of gold, each within seconds sinking towards the ground like a weeping willow tree. The explosion of a third firework, bigger than the others, seemed to shake the very ground, echoing off a metal building to the left.
Jeff sighed. The fireworks resembled his own feelings. Emotions shooting through the sky with all the pent-up energy of a freight train. Soon they would reach their peak, explode into a thousand pieces, and then fade away.
A baby cried at one end of the open field and a nearby group of girls oohed and aahed over every firework, but for the most part the crowd was silent, lost in the wonder of the colorful explosions. Jeff let his mind travel back 242 years. The dark silhouettes around him turned to a crowd of impoverished Americans struggling with emotions - inexpressible joy, relief, and excitement over the newly-declared independence of their country, yet a solemnity, a grief, over the struggle and sacrifice that their independence would - and already had - require. Each resounding BOOM of a bright firework became the BOOM of gunshots and cannon fire, echoing off the walls of distant cities and mountains. Red fireworks drooping toward the ground became blood trickling down body-strewn fields, the anguished cries of weeping mothers sounding in the back of Jeff's head. The crying baby at the end of the field became the cry of a young child, orphaned by the merciless horrors of war. Was it worth it? He thought.
Jeff thought of the freedoms that came with Independence. The freedom of speech. The freedom of the press. Both used to bring awareness of, and eventually emancipate, slaves. Used to protest against unequal treatment of Blacks, and argue the validity of their civil rights. Used to convict the nation of wrongdoing and bring about change. Freedoms used today to protest the murder of millions of unborn children and argue for their rights. The freedom of religion. The freedom of assembly. Both freedoms that enabled Jeff and countless others to worship God without fear of their lives. Freedoms that allowed them to proclaim the good news of the Gospel without being arrested and imprisoned or put to death. He thought of the right to vote. A right that gave citizens a say in what laws passed or didn't pass. A right that prevented tyrannical leaders from coming in and taking over. Where would America be without her Independence? Yes, many lives had been tragically lost in the fight for independence, but many more had been saved as a result. It was worth it.
What about the other sacrifice? A voice whispered inside his head. Was it worth it?
Jeff pulled his knees closer to his chest. The other sacrifice. This time the dark silhouettes around him became a noisy, jeering crowd, crying out in bitterness, furious anger, and excitement, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" The golden arms of a firework became a golden branch of thorns, twisted together into a mocking crown and shoved upon a man's head. Each resounding BOOM of an exploding firework became the resounding BOOM of a peal of thunder, and the flash of a camera became the blinding streak of an angry lightning bolt. Red fireworks drooping toward the ground became streams of blood trickling down the face and body of Jeff's sin-bearing Savior. The cry of the baby became the cry of Christ's weeping mother and a few broken friends as Jesus cried out in inexpressible anguish, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Was it worth it?
A ground-shaking explosion reminded Jeff of the earthquake that violently shook the earth after the Son of God had breathed His last. An earthquake that ripped the veil guarding the Holy of Holies completely in two, top to bottom. A way had been made. He thought of the disciples, locking themselves in hiding for fear of their lives. The group of weeping women, creeping out with baskets of spices three days after their Lord and Master had been cruelly put to death, unsure of how they would embalm His body but trusting. He thought of the angels descending from the heavens, clothed in the blinding light of the glory of God, rolling back the heavy stone to reveal an empty tomb, proclaiming the resurrection of the King so recently murdered. He thought of the women rushing to tell the disciples, Peter and John running to see if it could be true. He thought of the joy of the disciples as Jesus appeared to them, a living, resurrected Being. He thought of their enthusiasm as they went out into all the world to proclaim the Good News, despite being imprisoned, persecuted, and put to death. A way had been made! Separated from God no longer, clothed in the Righteousness of Christ, Jeff and countless others from generation to generation could be washed clean and worship God for an eternity in Heaven. Yes. Yes, it was worth it.
*Note: All photos and writings are my own. Please do not use without permission.