This has got to be one of my all-time favorite pictures. On the left, of course, is Hannah, and on the right is her best friend, Brittany. They were probably in about 5th or 6th grade, and they were riding a roller coaster at Magic Springs. As you can see, they're having so much fun.
What's that you say? They don't look like they're having fun to you?
No, I guess they don't really look like they're having fun to me, either. In fact, I think they look positively terrified.
You see, this is why I don't ride roller coasters. Why would someone willingly subject themselves to such terror, even in the name of fun? I'll keep my feet firmly planted on the ground, thank you very much.
It's not like I haven't tried. When I was a kid, I used to love scary rides, and I rode them at every opportunity. Of course, growing up in rural northern Wisconsin, my only opportunity to ride rides came around once a year at the county fair. I would ride the Rock-O-Planes and the Scrambler as many times as I could afford to buy tickets for them.
I'm not sure at what point in my life I lost my love for scary rides. Maybe it was when I discovered that there were rides bigger and scarier than what they had at the Price County Fair. But at some point I realized that those stomach-twisting turns and drops just weren't for me.
It seems trite to say that life is like a roller coaster ... It's definitely a comparison that's been over-applied. But maybe it's been said so often because it's actually true.
Think about it ...
- Life is a series of twists, turns, drops, and hills. Sometimes we can't seem them coming, and we are caught by surprise when the bottom suddenly drops out ... and sometimes we can see them coming, and live in dread and suspense while we approach the inevitable.
- We have no control over where the roller coaster takes us. All we can do is stay seated, keep our hands and feet in the car, and trust that the track's designer is thoroughly acquainted with the concept of gravity.
- Even though the trajectory of the roller coaster is completely out of our hands, there is a master designer who is thoroughly familiar with every twist and turn it will be making. He designed the track specifically for us ... none of it catches Him by surprise ... and He will see us safely to the end.
And finally, here is the point I was really aiming for from the very beginning of this post...
When I'm on a roller coaster, it seems like the ride lasts forever. I find myself bouncing like a pinball off the sides of the car, completely at the mercy of the ride, trying to catch my breath enough to scream, hoping I don't toss my cookies on the person next to me, anxiously anticipating the end of this "fun." And then, with a sudden jerk, it's over. The ride has ended.
Life can be like that. We look around us and see bald children battling cancer, people living in tents beside earthquake-ravaged homes, American soldiers coming home in flag-draped coffins, ruthless dictators spewing hatred ... and we wonder when this ride is ever going to end. Not to say that there isn't also great joy and beauty to be found in life ... please don't misunderstand me here ... but this world will never be our home, and it's not meant to be. I don't care how much you like roller coasters ... Who wants to ride one forever?
We are living in the temporary. Yes, God has a purpose for us here, and we should be about His business while we're waiting for the ride to end, but we should always keep in mind that we are living in the temporary. Somehow, on this Monday Mourning, that makes it a little bit easier to wait.