Amusement Park: Boat Ride
“I’ll meet you on the other side,” Jesus said as He helped Amalia into the little yellow boat.
“You’re not coming with me?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll still be with you, but in a different way.”
Amalia’s smile faded. She liked His presence, and wasn’t thrilled to have to be on this ride without it. True, this was just a little boat in a large pool with clear emerald water, as benign as a ride could get, but that didn’t really matter. She wanted to feel His presence. She watched, already missing Him, as He walked away and disappeared around a corner.
Turning her attention to the boat, she noticed two things right off. First, there was a steering wheel. Good, she liked having some control. Second, there was no source of power. No on/off switch. No accelerator to step on. No throttle to pull. How was she supposed to get this boat moving? And why a steering wheel if she couldn’t control the boat? It didn’t make sense.
Amalia looked around for someone in charge, but of the few people she saw, no one looked like a park employee. There were a few other boats moving around. Maybe one of them could help her out. “Hey!” she called, hands curved around her mouth. “How do you get this boat to go?” When no one answered, she stood up and yelled, “HEY! A LITTLE HELP, PLEASE!” Still, no one appeared to hear her.
She sat back down. Now what? She considered her options. She could continue to yell for help. She could just sit there and wait for the ride controller to show up. Or she could leave.
Fine. She didn’t want to go on this ride anyway. At least not without Jesus. This was not what she thought it would be. She should just get off this stupid boat, and walk around to the other side of the pool. It’s not that far.
Grumbling, she stood up. But before she could step out, a voice called to her. “What are you doing? You’re going to tip the boat over! Sit down!”
Looking down, she noticed the boat was indeed rocking. She looked back up at the man who was running towards her. “Where have you been? I wouldn’t have had to stand up if you had been here doing your job!”
“Sorry, I had an emergency,” he managed between gulps of air. “My …”
“I don’t care.” Amalia cut in as she flopped back on to the seat. “Just get this boat going.”
“Well, you have to do that.”
“Don’t you think I’ve tried that? There’s no power switch or accelerator!” She frowned at the man. “Hurry up, will you? I’m supposed to meet someone on the other side.”
“It doesn’t run on that kind of power. It…”
Amalia interrupted again. “I don’t care what kind of power it runs on. Get it moving!” She could feel the anger taking control inside her, but she didn’t care. He could have gotten someone to take his place before running off for his “emergency”. He probably just wanted some pizza.
The man’s voice became hard. “Like I was saying, it runs on…”
“And like I was saying, I don’t care.”
“Lady, you’d better quit interrupting me or I’m going to make you leave.” He pointed towards the center of the park. “There’s plenty of other rides to complain about.”
“I want this one. Make this boat move.”
Through a clenched mouth, he said, “You have to use the steering wheel.”
Amalia raised her eyebrows and glared at him. “Are you dumb? Steering wheels are for guiding, not for power.” She ignored the conviction of wrongdoing that was growing inside her. If this man wasn’t being so difficult, she wouldn’t have to act like this.
“Me? At least I’m smart enough to know how to make the boat go. Quit being a jerk long enough for me to tell you.” He pointed his finger at the wheel. “This steering wheel is different. All you have to do is…”
Frustrated, she hit the steering wheel. The boat gave a jerk, knocking her back in her seat.
“… push on the steering wheel.”
Still glaring, she tentatively pushed on the wheel. The boat moved forward.
“To move backwards, just…”
“I think I got it,” Amalia didn’t let him finish. “I’m not stupid.”
She pushed down more firmly, and felt gratified when the boat leapt forward. Finally!
Without looking back, she sped off towards the center of the pool. She was in no mood to enjoy the ride. She just wanted to get to the other side as quickly as she could.
You shouldn’t have acted like that. Go back and apologize.
The thought startled her, but she pushed it away. She liked the feeling of power her anger had given her. She had a right to it. That man had not been doing his job. Besides, he wasn’t so nice to her either. And he had ruined this ride for her. How was she supposed to enjoy a leisurely trip across the pool when she had to hurry to meet Jesus now?
But the thought wouldn’t stay away. Each time it returned, she countered it with excuses, allowing the anger to build inside. It was his fault because he broke a park rule by leaving a ride unattended. It wasn’t fair that the other boat riders got to ride before she did. There should have been a how-to sign posted. Besides that guy wasn’t important, he just a worker. He deserved to be treated like that for delaying her ride and treating her so disrespectfully. Maybe he would think twice before doing that to someone else. He sure wouldn’t have acted that way if Jesus had been there. Yeah, if Jesus had been there, everything would have been great. Jesus should never have left her.
A splash of cold water on her face broke through her self-justification. The pool no longer looked like an emerald mirror. It was rough and growing rougher by the minute. She struggled to control the wheel as the waves crashed into her again and again. Scared now, she tried to orientate herself. She could no longer see the far edge of the pool. In fact, she could not see any edges. All she could see was water. Rough, angry water. Giving up trying to control the wheel, she held on to the sides of the boat as it rocked violently from side to side. Waves began to break over her now, and she watched with horror as the bottom filled with water. She was going to sink!
“Jesus! Help me!”
Not getting a response, she called out again. “Jesus, please save me!”
Again, no response. Did Jesus abandon her? Surely not. He promised to always be with her. So where was He? What was keeping Him from helping her?
She called out over and over, thinking maybe He hadn’t heard her over the sound of the waves. But she was met with silence each time. Finally, exhausted and hoarse, she slumped in her seat. The water was now chest high. She closed her eyes. “Jesus, You said You’d be with me even if I couldn’t see You. I’m going to hold on to your promise, and wait for You to answer.”
You shouldn’t have acted like that. Go back and apologize.
That same thought again, but this time, she acknowledged her wrongdoing. “I’m sorry. I was wrong to get angry. I was wrong to treat that man like that. It doesn’t matter how he treated me, I did not act as You have taught me. I did not treat him as I would have wanted to be treated by him. I sinned against You, and I have no excuse. I’m sorry for that, and for my disobedience. Please forgive me. I will do as You say. I will apologize to him, if I don’t die out here first.”
She jumped as one word, one mighty majestic word, boomed like thunder across the waters. “PEACE!” Instantly the waves receded and the pool became as still as glass. Amalia looked around in wonder. He did it! Jesus had saved her!
Standing up, not caring that the boat rocked, she raised her arms high. “I can’t see You, but I know You’re here! Sin has no place with You, for you are a holy God! When I confessed my sin, You were quick to forgive me. You are powerful and glorious!”
After worshiping for a while longer, Amalia sat back down, and continued across the pool to where Jesus was waiting for her.
“So, how was your ride?” He asked as he helped her out of the boat.
She thought about it for a minute. So many adjectives came to mind: powerful, scary, wet, weird, unexpected, convicting, horrible… But she settled on one.
“I learned some things that I hope I never forget.” She started walking back towards the park employee to deliver her apology.
“God and sin do not mix. God is incredibly more powerful than I had thought. And God is quick to forgive.”
Jesus smiled. “Then that was one amazing ride.”
Psalm 69:1-3 Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.
Jonah 2:2-5a saying, “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.” The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me…
Psalm 32:1-5 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
Psalm 29:2-4 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.