The Dangers of Roller-Coaster Living… Hello Hump Day Readers. I hope the promise of Easter is still on your mind and the songs of resurrection being sung from your heart. After all, we are Easter People, right? I started this devotion about a month ago but was waiting for just the right time to share it. Sadly, that timing was due to the 14-year-old youngster who recently fell to his death in Orlando, FL. The tragedy of this death is that it didn’t need to happen, yet, it did.
I’ve never liked roller-coasters or rides like this latest disaster where the fall is 400 ft down, and the speed is 75mph; 75mph in a Corvette, OK, now you got me going, but a vertical drop at this speed, nada…I get disoriented on the Tilt-A-Wheel! But I also know a little bit about the danger of these super-rides. A friend of mine who flies F-16’s has a good reason his kids will never get on those rides—he knows what excessive G-forces can do to the brain. My own medical background taught me to be careful about embracing G-forces for the same reason. Why would someone even invent this kind of danger—it’s not for me, but a lot of folks love it. And that brings me to a short story from Pastor and Author, Tony Evans. With his permission, here it is:
My siblings and I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. One of the highlights of our summers was spending the day at Six Flags Over Texas, an amusement park that was a quick 30-minute drive from home. Looking back as an adult, I cannot imagine how we got any pleasure out of standing in line for two hours for a minute-and-a-half ride…really, have you ever been to Texas in the summer? It’s like 1050 with ,000% humidity—all in a park that is 200 hundred acres of concrete and steel. But…we were kids who cared about the heat?!
Our favorite—the Shock Wave double-loop roller coaster—the tallest and fastest in the world at that time…when we got to the ride a yellow rope blocked the entrance and a sign said “ride closed.” Then an engineer worker came by so I shouted, “Hey, mister, why is the Shock Wave shut down? That’s what we came here for.” He replied, “Yeah, there’s some stuff we gotta’ adjust and check out, sorry.” Almost in tears I asked, “When will it be done? We can wait 10 minutes or so?” He said, “Not today or tomorrow…probably closed for several days.”
He saw our disappointment, then gently said, “Son, we’re turning you and your buddies upside down twice in an open-air car that’s going 60+plus miles per hour…we have to make absolutely sure that every tiny bolt, screw, and wheel on this thing is safe and secure. I don’t want anything happening to you guys.” We shook hands and I realized the man was right, we didn’t want to get hurt, we’d have to wait, with a hang-dog look, we walked away.
Later in his life Tony thought about that day wondering if he really did believe the engineer knew what he was talking about or not. As a kid, maybe not fully, but thinking about that today reminded him of the decisions we have to make about our faith in God, our trust in God, and do we truly take God at his word?
For me, it reminded me about our lives that are often like that roller-coaster. Life whips us around, tosses us up and down, yet we hang on because we don’t want to fall off, but we do fall off and come to a screeching halt. What do we do next? Do we trust God— the Creator who makes the wheels of the universe turn, or do we go it alone, until the next ride breaks down? Joshua (24:15 NLT) reminds us of who we should put our trust in when he confidently said,
If you are not willing to serve him, decide today whom you will
serve—the gods your ancestors worshiped in Mesopotamia or
the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are now living.
As for my family and me, we will serve the Lord.”
This brings me back to the recent death of that young man. He had been turned away from other rides due to his weight, but not on this one, even though it had the same restrictions. As that ride went up, he was uneasy—he clearly didn’t trust “the engineer” and even told his friend to tell his dad that he was sorry. How tragic an ending for a life, and how important a lesson for us all about where we put our trust. Granted, this was a young boy, but it reminds us of how easily the “seemingly harmless adventures of this life” suck us in and we let our guards down, toss out sound wisdom and get on that dangerous ride.
However, when things come to a halt, it is then—in the waiting—while the ride is broken down, our Engineer shows up and tenderly starts to put the parts back together again. Don’t fight it especially when it gets tough, instead work with the Engineer until all the “nuts and bolts” are in the right place and you can get on the safe ride of living again. Call it your new Sabbath—a rest to allow God to heal you, open your eyes to wisdom, and fill your heart once again with hope, strength and encouragement for this “ride in life”—AMEN.