When I was a little girl, every summer my parents would take us to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. One of the first times we went I was about 7 or eight years old. I was just tall enough to ride the “grown up” rides. My mom loved to ride the roller coasters, and she wanted to ride the Blue Streak. She had a thing about not wanting to ride with strangers, so she asked me to ride with her. My dad couldn’t go with her because my brother and sister were too young to ride and I was too young to watch them.
I did not want to get on that ride. I observed the screaming riders and the cars going fast and dropping down steep hills and was afraid. She promised nothing bad would happen and somehow, she talked me into it.
I remember sitting in that car and hearing the locking of the handrail and thinking there was no escape now! I was trapped. My mom told me to hold my hands up in the air when we went down the hills. She was so excited and I felt bad that I could not feel the same way. The car started to move and I grabbed onto the hand rail.
We approached that first big hill and climbed up for what seemed like forever. As I looked down, I realized that what had just gone up was coming back down and closed my eyes. I wanted to cry but I was paralyzed. As we dropped I felt my stomach come up into my throat and nearly out of my mouth. Then I was tossed about like a rag doll as the car took twists and turns. All I could do was hold on for dear life and pray I wouldn’t be sick.
Once the ride stopped, I was a pale statue holding onto the handrail so tight my hands were white. I was paralyzed. My mom spoke in soft cajoling tones and tried to pry my hands off the rail, but I wouldn’t let go. She finally got me to move by saying that if I didn’t let go, I’d have to ride the coaster again. That did it! I slowly got out of the car, but could not walk a straight line. My mom had to hold onto my hand and try to keep me upright because I kept wanting to tilt.
That roller coaster is a lot like life. It has some breath-taking highs and gut wrenching lows. When you are riding life’s highs, you have no clue when it’ll drop down to the valley. Everyone reacts to those highs and lows based on their own internal monitor – their faith system.
My mom believed the ride would be fun and experienced no anxiety and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. When you have a strong faith in God and have experienced his love and grace, you are more apt to enjoy the ride and take those highs and lows as they come knowing they are a season that too shall pass. You can rest in the assurance that God is in control and He wants what is best for you even though it may mean you have to go through a trial or two.
When there is a lack of faith in God, life’s ups and downs can seem out of control and can make a person feel lost and tossed about. Sometimes it causes a person to reach out and grab the first thing to hold onto and try to bring balance into life. That thing may not always be good or helpful. After all, grabbing onto that handrail on the roller coaster did not help me one bit, I still lost it. I had nothing in my soul to tell me I would survive or be okay at the end.
Faith in God is the firm foundation that gives us hope. It’s something we can hold onto and build a life around that gives us reinforcing strength to live our lives without fear and withstand the highs and lows that life throws in our direction. And with the Lord beside us on life’s roller coaster, it’s easier to enjoy the ride.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1