I hate roller coasters—the sudden drops, twists, turns and speed.
I’ve been to Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world, and why anyone would brag about that is beyond me. I’ve also been to Disneyland, slightly comforted by the fact that I was a Mouseketeer. What harm could befall me at the happiest place on earth?
A friend tricked me onto the Tower of Terror once, saying that it was just few little drops. I don't know why I believed him because I could hear the people screaming.
Fortunately, I was not fooled by the Mickey Mouse head on California Screamin’. I stayed behind, safe on the sidewalk, as my husband and son happily, willingly locked themselves into that tiny car for three minutes of sheer terror. Later in the day, they went back for more. I thought they were crazy
I have been accused of overthinking roller coasters. Before I ride one, I want to know the number of drops, how bad the turns are, and do you go upside down at any point in the ride? I cast doubts on well-meaning friends who assure me of smooth rides.
Perhaps the only good thing about roller coasters is that they end. The drops and upside-down loops don’t go on forever and ever. The three minutes of terror end as the car slows down to a stop. Too bad life isn't like that, where twists and turns just end.
A while back, my life was going along rather smoothly and predictably. No surprises, nothing I couldn’t handle. I had things figured out. Then out of nowhere came the sudden drop. I had no idea when or where the next turn would take place. I was in an endless upside down loop, and way past the three-minute mark of when this difficult trial was supposed to be over.
That's sort of the point of trials. We don't know when the next drop or turn will come. We don't know when they'll end or where they came from, can't figure out why us, why now, and please, God, just make it go away.
I think that hanging upside down in this endless loop has given me a different perspective on trials and hard times. It might not be about trials after all, but about Jesus and grace and being more like him today than I was at that first drop, or when the next unexpected turn comes.
What if following Jesus means not staying on the sidewalk, but waiting in the line and stepping onto the roller coaster? That would suggest that some of life's turns and twists and drops take us to places of hardship because we are following Jesus.
It's about looking to Jesus, who "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2) It's realizing that Jesus isn't keeping us off the coaster, but sitting here with us at every twist and turn and scream. And it's also looking less at the here and now, and more at the not yet to come and the pure joy at seeing Jesus face-to-face, at the end of the ride that is really just the beginning.