Roller-coaster Ride

Every once in a while, we hear something that instantly resonates. It resonates because deep down we know it’s true. In that instant, we don’t need proof. No charts, no graphs, no diagrams to explain it to us. We just know it in our soul to be true. There was an illustration that Pastor Kyle Burkholder used last night at Grace Point College Ministry that did just that for me. It resonated. It sent my brain on a tilt-a-whirl, swirling round and round last night and all of today, and this, my friends, is my brain’s upchuck. Gross, I know….moving on.

The illustration depicted how life is like a roller-coaster. Sounds cliché right now, but bear with me. And to be honest, I’m not even 100% sure this is where Kyle took the illustration, but it’s where my brain took it. My brain’s funny like that sometimes. So, roller-coasters. Our lives really are like roller-coasters, aren’t they? I mean, think about it. There are times that are just unbearably scary. Some parts are downright fun. Some parts make you a little sick. And some parts are, to be honest, a little boring. And not only that, everybody’s life is a different roller-coaster. Maybe you have a kiddie ride roller-coaster life with little twists, turns, dips, and whatnot, but for the most part, relatively easy. But some of you have the rickety wooden roller-coaster lives with gargantuan hills and valleys, sickening turns, moments of intense insecurity as you experience weightlessness, all the while your head is throbbing from all the bouncing and shaking and abrupt turns. Or maybe you fall somewhere in the middle.

And as a side note, we need to be careful about becoming envious about another person’s “ roller-coaster”. Whether you’ve had an easy ride and wish you had a more “adventurous” ride or you’ve had a hellacious ride and wish you could catch a break and take a trip to Munchkinland, we have to accept what we’ve been given and know that life is life and it goes on.

“In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on” — Robert Frost  

Regardless of which ride describes your life best, one thing is common in all those rides. A seat belt, harness, lap belt, or some other type of device to keep you secure. And in a lot of ways, Jesus is like that safety belt. As hokey and youth group-y as that may sound, it’s true. And we have a choice. We can choose to trust in that safety belt and know that it’s secure, or we can choose not to. But what’s cool is that whether or not we choose to trust that safety belt, it’s there. And it’s secure. The difference is, and I’ve definitely experienced this, that when we don’t trust the belt, the ride is infinitely scarier than if I absolutely trust it. But, again, either way, it keeps me safe and secure. Sometimes, especially on the really scary rides, those belts are on SO tightly. So tightly, in fact, that it hurts a little bit. But we endure the pain because we know that it’s safer than taking the belt off completely, or only having it halfway on. We know that, although it’s painful at times, we can still trust it to ultimately keep us safe and secure.

Unfortunately, there are people who choose to place their security in money, status, position, grades, people, sex, etc. Maybe you’re one of those people. People that think that those things will last. That they’ll bring everlasting, maybe even eternal, security. But they don’t. They choose to ride their roller-coaster of a life with the safety belt there, waiting to be put on, but instead of putting it on, they hold on to these other things, things, things that they think bring them security. And as the ride gets crazy and scary, they reach out and try to hold desperately to that which they think will hold them. When one thing flees, they reach for something else, continuing that cycle until eventually there’s nothing left. Nothing except for that safety belt, still dangling on their laps. My hope and my prayer is that people will recognize the security that that belt offers and fasten it. They don’t even necessarily have to trust it yet, but putting it on and letting that be their security is key. Because when the ride is over, whether or not someone comes out alive is determined by whether or not they had that safety belt on.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” – Proverbs 14:12

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23