A few months ago, on a muggy Saturday, our family made the much-anticipated trip to a big theme park. Our teenagers, undaunted by hot sun and crowds, were looking forward to a day adventuring on roller coasters and other adrenaline-surging rides, so as soon as we entered the park, we headed straight for the biggest, loopiest roller coaster of all.
After waiting in line for a good half hour, we were all strapped and harnessed into the ride and past the point of no return. The roller coaster picked up speed as it climbed 171 feet high, then it plunged, looping forwards and backwards, at speeds of up to 60 mph (100 km/h). This wasn’t fun for me. I tried to suppress my panic and visions of death, as the rest of my family shrieked with excitement. Two very scary minutes later, we coasted into the loading dock. I can’t tell you how happy I was to get out of that harness!
Even though I’m not a fan of roller coasters, I can’t help but notice how life can sometimes feel like a twisting and turning ride. So much can change so quickly, and we control so little of the experience. Here are a few things my life ride has taught me:
I’m not in control. There are twists and plunges I don’t anticipate, and soaring heights I can’t foresee. I cannot force an outcome or determine the choices of others. I can only control my own attitude and actions.
Open your eyes. I closed my eyes for pretty much the entire roller coaster experience. Of course, that didn’t actually help me be less scared. Sometimes, in life, we can squeeze our eyes shut, refusing to see the adventure, because of fear, stubbornness, or maybe even laziness. We need to open our eyes.
Embrace the chaos. Life doesn’t always feel like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes it’s more like one of those kiddy train rides—predictable, safe, and easy. I love routine, I love predictable. But in looking back, it’s clear that the chaos, the being thrown into the unexpected, was often what produced the richest parts of my life’s adventure. Always leave room for discovery.
Trust the ride. Roller coasters aren’t designed haphazardly by someone with a sketch pad and a hammer. There’s extreme precision and skill involved in every phase. Rigorous equations and scenarios and tests are run to prove that the ride is safe, strict training is provided to every operator, and detailed maintenance is logged. The ride is safe, even when it doesn’t feel like it. And when it comes to the loops, plunges, twists, and climbs of my life, God has proved to me over and over that He is good. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. When we trust in Him, we are safe.
I think I just gave you four good reasons to go ride a roller coaster!—And also to enjoy the ride of your life!