Monday, July 14, 2014

enjoying the ride

The first roller coaster I ever rode was Space Mountain at Disney World.  It was not exactly a pleasant experience.  Long story short, I cried my way up, down and around the entire ride (and long waiting line, too).  I'm sure I was quite a pleasure to be around.  My next roller coaster experience was at Busch Gardens in Florida.  We rode the Kumba - the park's first inverted roller coaster.  I was so scared, but once we really got going I found that I actually loved it.  The thrill of the ride.  The adrenaline rush.  It was intoxicating.

Over the years, I've ridden tons of roller coasters.  Every choir trip in high school ended with a day at Six Flags.  We spent dawn until dusk winding through hours of lines, anxiously awaiting the one-to-two minute adrenaline rush of each roller coaster ride.  Some of my best high school memories are from those trips.

{Six Flags San Antonio circa 2003}

I love roller coasters.  They make me giddy and love that sensation you get on a really good coaster - one of flying - there's nothing like it.  That doesn't change the fact, though, that even after the hundreds of roller coasters I've ridden in my life, I am still absolutely terrified when each ride begins. 

You know when you first board a roller coaster, and you begin the slow, initial descent to the first big drop?  The 20-30 seconds it takes to reach the pinnacle, when you know what is coming and can sometimes even see the big drop, but you're just hanging in limbo until the coaster accelerates over the edge?  I call this the "creaker" part of a roller coaster, and that, for me, is the absolute scariest part of the ride.  After the creaker is over, I have an incredible time - it's just getting through the creaker that really tests my gumption.

 {this is a creaker. (image via google).  it makes me nervous just looking at this picture!}

 While we were at Cedar Point recently, I thought about why I am so scared of the "easiest" part of a roller coaster.  And I realized that it all comes down to faith.  You see, when you're climbing the creaker of any particular coaster, you are reclined backwards on the incline and your seatbelt and harness aren't really doing much yet.  During the entire creaker, you are waiting in anticipation (or for me, terror) until you reach the top where the safety of your seat will really be put to the test.  You wait for that brief moment at the end of each creaker when you shift forward in your harness and have to just trust that the harness will hold you.  That you will not fall out.  That you are safe.  And that you can enjoy the steep drops and loops and twists knowing that, in the end, the harness will still hold you. 

As I reflected on this, I realized that creakers and roller coasters are a lot like our faith.  Throughout our lives He invites us to join Him on extraordinary rides- crazy, exciting rides full of highs and lows and loop-the-loops that ultimately bring us closer to Him.  It sounds so appealing, but sometimes it is just so hard to actually get on board. 

{image via google}

As God whispers, "I've got you, you're safe, just trust me," I cling to my seat in a panic and think desperately how I wish I could get off the ride.  While the creaker rises to new heights, I'm so caught up in trying to control my own safety that I can't even look out to see the beauty of my surroundings.  I'm full of doubt - "Why did I get on this in the first place?" and worry - "What if something terrible happens that I have no control over?" instead of sitting back and anticipating the exciting experience that God has in store for me.  I doubt His protection, His goodness, His goodwill towards me.

Next thing I know, we reach the top of the creaker and I'm peering over the edge, getting a small taste of the excitement that is to come.  The thrills that God has in store for me.  The joy that He wants to bring into my life.  And I lean forward, finally understanding that to get to the good part of the ride, I have to trust that He's got me and that He will hold me.  I have to have faith

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  - Psalm 56:3

{image via google}

What a flood of relief, knowing that I am safe in His protection and plan for me.  Knowing that I can sit back and yell for joy, without having to try to save myself.  In those moments when I truly surrender my worries and anxiety to God, He fills me with a sense of freedom.  If only I trusted Him from the beginning - enjoying the trip up the creaker in eager anticipation of the showering of His goodness and grace upon me. 

How completely satisfying, to turn from our limitations to a God who has none.  - A. W. Tozer

I may never get over my fear of an actual roller coaster creaker.  In fact, I most likely never will.  But the next time I feel God tugging at my heart, I'm going to try my hardest to trust Him from the get-go.  No more wasting time panicking or trying to take control.  Instead, it's time to learn to sit back and just enjoy the ride.

{image via google}
But I will trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for He has been good to me.
-Psalm 3:5-6

1 comment:

  1. Awww... I love this! Faith is so important and, yes, the creaker part of the roller coaster definitely reminds me of that as well!