A roller coaster that holds on to you

I think I’ve been looking at God-opportunities wrong all my life. So many times when God starts doing something, I’m ready and willing to jump on board and hold on tight as the ride shoots forward at a breakneck pace. But is that really the best way to ride?

On a roller coaster, you’re usually strapped in so tightly that holding on white-knuckled can’t make you any more secure. The only exception to that was the old wooden roller coaster at Joyland in Wichita, which was a death trap.

What do you do with your hands on roller coasters? Most people hold on for dear life, yeah, but what should you do with them? I’ve never tried it, but some brave souls throw their hands in the air. Why? Maybe it’s a crazy trust exercise. Maybe it’s to demonstrate that they’re fearless.

Either way, I’m sure you’re probably a lot more comfortable after the ride is over if you aren’t having to use a crowbar to pry your fingers off the harness.

But that got me thinking. If God is inviting us to ride the wild roller coaster of life with Him, would it be better to hold on tight for dear life or let go and enjoy the ride?

Courtesy of Joel A . Rogers, http://www.coastergallery.com/

Courtesy of Joel A . Rogers, http://www.coastergallery.com/

Today’s verse is Exodus 14:15.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!”

This is what God says to Moses just before He parts the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross to escape Pharaoh’s army. Really, you ought to read the whole of Exodus 14 to get the feel for the story. But it comes down to God telling Moses what to do, and the Moses does it. But the Israelites aren’t just standing there. When the Red Sea parts, they still have to cross it.

Maybe my thinking is all wrong, but all my life, I’ve looked at the rapid pace of God’s plans, and I’ve automatically decided that the best way to approach them is to hunker down and hold on tight. If I don’t, I’m bound to fall off, right? Because there’s no way I can keep up on my own.

Going back to the roller coaster analogy, if we’re riding it, we don’t need to keep up. We’re strapped in six ways from Sunday. We’re on the ride, and a roller coaster doesn’t stop to let you off. Once you’re strapped in, you’re committed.

What would rapid-pace running with God look like if I weren’t holding on for dear life? Because there’s a big difference between holding on to the ride and participating in the ride.

What if I trusted Him enough to let go and put my hands in the air? If all of my strength and focus wasn’t invested in holding on tight, I could use that strength and focus in other ways. Like enjoying the ride. Like marveling at how fast we’re going. I could keep my eyes open and see what’s coming.

What is it about running with God that makes us think we have to do something to stay on the ride? If He invited us to get on, don’t you think He’ll make sure we stay on? The only reason why we’d fall off is if we sabotaged our harness, and any thinking person wouldn’t do that.

The point is this. Instead of holding on to the ride, hold on to Christ and reach forward together. You’ve got two hands, and you don’t have to cling to your harness with all your strength. You can be busy doing things while you’re on the ride. Don’t be afraid of the speed. Don’t be afraid of the sharp corners and loud sounds. God knows what’s coming, and He’ll make sure you stay in your seat.

You don’t have to keep up. You don’t have to add anything to the ride. But what you can do is be ready. If all your focus is on holding yourself in one place, you won’t notice the opportunities to help others. You won’t anticipate the moments when you can do something more than just let go.

If we’re on the ride with God, we should spend less time holding on and more time letting go. It’ll be fast, yes. It’ll be wild, absolutely. But it’ll also be the best thing you’ve ever experienced. And you won’t spend it holding on for dear life.

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Green mulberry growing on the tree at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

We’re already victorious

Do you ever feel stuck? Like nothing you accomplish actually helps you move forward? Maybe even like what you manage to get done in a day might actually put you back a few steps?

You can work your hardest and try with all your might, but you still don’t seem to be able to move forward. You’re just stuck. You just have to wait. And I hate being in that place. I feel helpless and useless. I feel like I can’t do anything right, and I feel like nothing is ever going to change.

I’m working on those feelings. Because they’re not true and they’re certainly not helpful. But what can we do when we hit that place in our lives? We’ll all get there eventually, so how do we fend off the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness?

Green mulberry growing on the tree at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Green mulberry growing on the tree at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Exodus 15:2.

The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him—
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him!

This verse comes from a larger chapter just after God saved the Israelites from pharaoh’s armies by parting the Red Sea. At that point in their lives, I’m sure the Israelites were thankful to God, mostly because what He had done for them was obvious. That’s where this song comes in.

And it’s honestly not a bad thing for us to remember either. We give the Israelites in the Bible such a hard time for being fickle and turning against God whenever they had the chance, but what do we do? God has done the same (if not more) for us than He did for them, and we still have days where we ask Him where He is. We still have days when we doubt Him. We’re just as bad as the Israelites. Maybe we haven’t made a golden calf and worshipped it, but there are plenty of other things we’ve made in our lives that we use as a substitute for God.

Like so many things in life, the issue is perspective. God gave us this life on earth to bring glory to Him, to praise Him, to learn how to walk with Him. But this life isn’t our final destination. Earth isn’t where we will spend eternity. This life is just a pit stop.

So when this life goes wrong, why do we get upset? When our plans don’t work out in this life, why do we get angry with God? This life isn’t the life we were designed to live anyway. A new life is coming, a better life, and that’s what we should be looking forward to. And if you’re a Christ-follower, that life is already guaranteed to you.

God has already won the victory over death and sin. He’s already conquered all the real enemies in our lives. So why be upset? Why be discouraged? Why be frustrated?

No, this life won’t always go the way you want it to, but don’t be like the Israelites, who praised God for His goodness one moment and the complained about His plan the next.

God has given us victory. Period. It may not always look like we want it to, but it’s not up to us anyway.

So the next time life twists off and surprises you or the next time God drops something in your lap that you don’t particularly want, don’t get upset with God. Don’t turn on Him. Remember who He is and what He’s done for you, and remember that you already have victory. And He’s not going to give you more than you can handle without His help.