I spent the weekend at a family reunion at Okoboji where the activity of choice for the teens and preteens was riding as many rides as possible at Arnold’s Park. I had NO interest in this particular activity but watching the anticipation and joy in their faces did remind me that I once had those same emotions each year when the carnival would come to town for Fun Days. The favorite ride seemed to be the roller coaster. Now I am no thrill seeker and roller coasters don’t interest me at all, but I began to think just a similar our faith in God really is like riding a roller coaster. Yes, we’ve all probably used this analogy, but I think there’s more truth to it than we tend to realize.
I recall the pit in my stomach as the roller coaster slowly climbed the hill, the pause at the very top that allows the anticipation to build, and then the exhilerating free fall as the coaster raced down the track. There was the sigh of relief when it was all over quickly followed by a strange desire to do it all again. There was no real fear. There was faith of an innocent and naive child. As an adult, my experience is completely different. I see all of the ways the ride could quite literally go off the tracks. I rarely allow the anticipation to build on the way up the hill and I hang on for dear life on the way down instead of throwing my hands up in reckless abandon. There’s no real faith and there’s no real enjoyment.
So which way would God have me approach life?
Following Christ and the leading of the Holy Spirit really does feel so similar to that roller coaster ride. There are challenges and obstacles making the trek up the hill challenging and leaving us often feeling like we’re just barely inching or lurching our way up to the top. And then just when we think we’re able to maybe catch our breath from the climb, it feels as though we are hurtling down the other side barely able to hold on. Both aspects can feel exhilarating or exhausting, depending on our attitude and our perspective. Will I embrace faith like a child, which allows me to enjoy the view and long to go on the ride again? Or will I constantly assess the risk and the danger, close my eyes, and hang on for dear life essentially squashing any chance of experiencing any joy?
I want to throw my hands up, open my eyes wide, and experience life in its fullness. I want to trust the rollercoaster designer and engineer – the author and perfector of my life’s adventure. In what ways has life felt like a roller coaster for you? What feels like you’re creeping up? What has made you feel like you’re racing towards the bottom?