I’m terrified of roller coasters.
I envy those who fearlessly seek out the adrenaline rush, run to the line and willingly choose to sit in the very front as if they’re not afraid they could possibly plunge to their death.
I walk to the line, fear piercing my heart, my hands shaking, my mind reminding me of each and every possibility in which the seat could be dislodged and go flying into the air and come crashing to the ground at ungodly speeds. (Which in this case, we were over an ocean…I mean hello? Sharks.)
I was recently riding one with my family on a pier at the beach. There was this little boy who was riding by himself. He was psyched too. He wasn’t afraid nor was he embarrassed to be riding alone. I sat next to that 8-year-old kid and he was bounding with excitement while HE’S comforting ME.
I like control. I like knowing every possible scenario and I naturally calculate my best course of action where I’m least likely to be hurt. My brain was screaming RISK as I sat in my seat next to my family and next to this little kid.
I think hopping on a roller coaster is a lot like choosing to follow Jesus. Sometimes I think His spirit is like that 8-year-old boy, happily sitting next to me like, “Let’s do this! It’s going to be amazing, trust me, I’ve done it twice already!”
And I’m like, “Umm this is an awful idea. What was I thinking? What was that sound, did something break?” Looks around rapidly. “I can’t believe I even got in line for this.” Checks the bar over my knees. “Did this thing even lock?” Gasps. “It didn’t? Why am I not secured in yet?”
Great, death by a roller coaster that resembles a cheesy looking shark.
The kid laughs and comforts me saying, “Trust me! It’s going to be worth it!”
I give Jesus the same look I gave that 8-year-old kid. A look that’s full of fear mixed with a little “Are you insane?!”
After I regret the choice I’ve made to sit in that ridiculous seat up to the top where it will drop us into a 30 second whirlwind of spinning and flipping midair…I actually have fun. It leaves me breathless from the adrenaline and the rush of flying fast and high. My throat is hoarse from all of the screaming. I’m shaking out of fear yet, I had the time of my life.
That’s how I view myself when I truly follow Jesus. He beckons me onto the ride we call life, the kind of life where we fearlessly and courageously follow Him. I nearly die of fear and I’m kind of angry at Him for making me do it in the beginning. But once we’re unbuckled and out of the seat at the end, He’s smiling at me and to my complete and utter surprise, I’m looking back at Him with a smile of my own.
Even more surprising is when I high five Him and tell Him to “Let’s go again!” (yeah, in my head I high five Jesus, maybe even fist bump on a good day)
Granted, I revert back to my process of the fear stricken heart and the shaking and the screaming as the ride clicks to the top all over again…but it’s a little bit easier the second go around. I trust a little bit more each time.
I think Jesus wants us to be more like that 8-year-old kid, fearless, ready to follow into the unknown and not embarrassed to do it alone if others are too afraid or unwilling to walk with Him.
Jesus knows we have nothing to fear and He knows it will be well worth it and despite us agreeing to go, yet still kicking and screaming the entire way, He’s still there. He’s elbowing us like “This is it, get ready!”
Life can be pretty scary. It can be painful and hard and sometimes we are called to take those risks, but if only we could be more like that 8-year-old kid who looked fear in the face and refused to let it dampen his spirit. Instead, he not only faced it, but he conquered it.
Friends, we can rest assured that Jesus is with us on those crazy rides and I fully believe He laughs with us, He cries with us, He comforts us and He challenges us. He is our fearless leader, our biggest fan and He chose us to go on a ride with us. That’s pretty cool if you think about it. He didn’t force us, He opened the invitation. He was beyond excited when we stepped up with Him and truly went.
What’s even cooler is that he never once says “I told you so.” He just high fives us when we decide to strap in with him and He’s smiling at the end, knowing we would have the experience of a lifetime. He knows exactly what we need and He knows how to get us there, despite our fear and discomfort.
He knew our fear was the only thing holding us back. I like to think He loves when at the end of it all, our hair is completely disheveled like a bad 80’s impression, our palms sweaty, our knees shaking and our hearts are racing. He knew we would smile at the end of it all and we would say, “Okay, what’s next?”
I’d like to say it’s time I became fearless and stopped letting little kids upstage me on rides (yes, including a ferris wheel, I’m not proud of my fear). But I’m going to be realistic here and just admit that it takes a lot of courage for me to get on roller coasters and even carnival rides.
Like that roller coaster ride where I close my eyes and sit in my seat, strapped in tight, scared to absolute death. I do the same thing in life. Afraid of change, terrified of my lack of control. Like that little boy who was encouraging me to keep my eyes open the entire time, I believe Jesus is doing the same thing.
We sit in life, so afraid of everything that even when we’re like “Okay I’ll do it, but I’m going to wrap my arms around myself, shut my eyes and hang on for dear life the entire time.” Jesus is next to us like, “Open your eyes! Hold your hands out!”
What if, when change came, when new things presented themselves and when opportunity came knocking on our door, we didn’t just say yes and flip out the entire time. What if we actually kept our eyes open, held our hands out and rejoiced in that period of time?
Life would be pretty different if we lived with courage and truly trusted in Him.
I don’t know about you, but I hope I get to the point where I’m riding the roller coasters of life with Jesus, eyes wide open and hands out, rejoicing regardless of my fear and discomfort. Easier said than done, I understand.
No matter the season of your life, let this be a reminder:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I’ll say it again, Rejoice!”
Like Francis Chan said, notice it doesn’t say “Rejoice in the Lord, unless you’re doing something very important or feeling stressed.”
It says always, no matter what season, no matter what changes come.
“Do not be afraid.”
I hope this encourages you. I also hope that if you’re ever too afraid of riding the roller coasters of life, you’re not alone in that fear. You can take comfort in the fact that I’m screaming somewhere around you haha. We can ride those together though and look at each other, then look at Jesus, and afterwards ask:
“Okay, what’s next?”