There are two kinds of people in this world, there are roller coaster people and there are non-roller coaster people. We have been on vacation, in Philadelphia, this past week and have gone to a few excursions that have included roller coasters.
On Wednesday we went to Sesame Place, in Langhorne PA, where Annsley, my 9 year old, and I went on the “Viper Trail” (Real Picture) roller coaster together. Ok, I know what you’re thinking…Sesame Place? Roller Coaster? Really? Come-on! But, in all seriousness, it wasn’t a bad little coaster. I managed to wedge my legs under the “safety bar” just enough to be a able to sit down. However, when the ride operator went to start the ride I noticed my bar hadn’t locked because my legs were preventing the safety bars locking device from fully engaging. So I calmly, but loudly, announced to the car operator, and everyone within 20 miles of me, that “our bar is not locked!” The operator, who might have been all of 16, gave me the “you’re a giant doofus” look, put his foot on the safety bar and, with the weight of his entire 115 pound body, slammed the bar into place. Now, if a guy on the street whacked me across the legs with a metal bar, Nancy Kerrigan style, I would have politely, but firmly, ripped his arms from his body. But, in this instance, I found myself actually thanking this kid in my giant doofus voice “uhhh Thank You?” (insert Baby Huey voice here)
Once the feeling came back in my legs and I realized that I SHOULD NOT put my hands up during this ride, it was actually a lot of fun. The big win, however, was getting to experience the roller coaster ride with Annsley who would have not gone by herself! Yes! Dad-1/Roller Coaster-0!
A few days later we took the kids to Ocean City, NJ for a day of beach and boardwalk fun. We love the family atmosphere of Ocean City and hope to go back again next year. Well, at the end of the night, to my surprise, my four oldest kids all agreed to go on the “beginner” roller coaster together called the Sea Serpent. They all got in line together, sat together (all 4 are in the back two cars), and really looked out for one another during the ride. You can’t see it in the video but during the up and down section, especially the first couple times around, Ella and Colby were both a little scared. But, when the coaster slows down and comes around to where I am standing, with the other parents, they are all smiles and having a great time. When they got off the ride I told them all how proud I was that they went on the roller coaster together!
For much of the ride home I was thinking about why I was so proud of them for going on a silly roller coaster. I think, maybe, I was proud of them because they overcame their fears, they trusted me, they stayed together as family, they knew that the ups and downs were only temporary and understanding that truth really allowed them to “enjoy the ride”?
Of course, that got me thinking about life and what I am calling “roller coaster theology”. In the book of James, and many other places in the Bible, the author explains that life is going to have ups and downs, James calls them “trials of all kinds”. But then the author goes on to say that we should actually “take joy” in them, just like the ups and downs on a roller coaster!
Trials and Temptations (and roller coasters)
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
If we can trust that, as scary as life is sometimes, the ups and downs in life complete a purpose in us, it may help us to “en”joy” the ride”. Do you know the scariest part of any roller coaster ride is for me? It’s “the climb”! (insert Miley Cyrus voice here) You know, at the beginning when you’re all amped up with adrenaline and they are dragging you to the top of the ride with that intense loud metal clanking noise vibrating through your entire body and you’re not sure why you actually paid money to do this willingly… but, once you start going you realize the ride is much more “thrilling” than “scary.” Are you living a thrilling faith story?
What do you think? Are you a roller coaster person? What can we learn from the ups and downs in life? Why do you think I was so proud of my kids? How do you think God looks at us during our ups and downs? What’s the scariest roller coaster you have been on? Is life like a coaster? Please, take 1 minute to leave a comment and become a subscriber to the OB blog.