Amusement Park: Roller Coaster
Without warning, her stomach jumped to her throat as the car dropped straight down. Had they run off the track? How far down was it? Did it matter? At the rate they were falling, the end would be disastrous. The car would be crushed, and she might even die. Might? How could she NOT die?
“Jesus! Do something!”
If He answered, she didn’t know. She couldn’t hear anything over her screams. She gripped Jesus with both hands, but that didn’t seem to help. She could still feel the stomach lurching effect of the free fall. Things were still rushing past, totally out of her control.
Just as she felt they were surely about to hit the bottom, the track curved into a gentler slope, and then straightened, before climbing back up.
Jesus motioned with His hand. “See, I’m still here. No matter how far you dropped, I never left you. You were not in any danger, regardless of how you felt.”
Her breaths coming fast and shallow, all Amalia could do was nod. Easy for Him to say, but what if there was another drop? Of course there will be another drop. This was a roller coaster. Still, she hadn’t seen this one coming, and probably wouldn’t see the next one. How was she expected to enjoy this ride if she never knew what was coming?
“Breathe, Amalia, Focus on My presence, and breathe in My peace.”
After a few moments, her breathing under control again, Amalia turned her wide eyes to her Friend. “Why didn’t You warn Me?”
“I did. I told you this was the biggest roller coaster you’ll ever ride.”
“And that was enough? Why couldn’t You have told me about this drop. Especially right before we hit it.”
“What would you have done differently?”
“I could have prepared for it.”
“I could have… I would have…” What? What would she have done if she had known about the coming drop? Hold on tighter? No, her grip couldn’t have been any tighter than it had been. Position herself for the fall? No, she was already seated firmly, and buckled in tightly. Watch for the coming drop so she wouldn’t be caught by surprise? No, Jesus was right. She already knew drops were part of a roller coaster ride. So what would she have done? Worry. She would have spent those moments leading up to the fall worrying about what was going to happen, instead of enjoying was happening. She would have missed out on the present fun time with Jesus if she had spent it worrying about the future.
“Exactly,” Jesus answered as if she had been thinking out loud. “Worrying just steals your joy.”
“Well, at least that death drop is behind us now.” She froze as a thought entered her mind. “We’re not going to have to do it again, are we?
Jesus laughed. “No, not that drop, but there are other drops ahead. And twists and turns and bumps. And even some flips. They are all part of life. The drops, though, seem to be the hardest. Those are the times in your life where you feel like the bottom falls out. Like when a catastrophic illness wipes out your bank account and leaves you in deep debt. Or when a trusted friend betrays you, leaving you confused and hurt and angry. In those times, no matter how hard it is, keep a firm grip on Me. You will not be destroyed, because I am with you through every moment, and you will rise again on the other side. Circumstances may change, but I do not. I love you, and will never leave you. Ever.”
Jesus’s words were comforting, but Amalia wondered why there had to be killer drops in the first place. The kiddie roller coaster didn’t have them. She knew because that was one of her favorite rides when she was younger. Just because a roller coaster was bigger didn’t mean it had to be scarier. And a roller coaster ride with Jesus should fun. Didn’t He start off this whole amusement park adventure telling her that He wanted her to have fun? So, if the drops had to be there, why not at least make them less scary? Why couldn’t they just be gentle slopes instead of deep cliffs?
Again Jesus responded as if He could hear her thoughts, which of course He could. “Amalia, I never promised you a life without problems. Life is full of problems. What I did promise was that I would be with you through every one of them. I could level out the track – and I will do that in some places – but most of the time I allow the drops because I use them for your good. Sometimes to teach you. Sometimes to discipline you. Sometimes to grow your faith. There are other reasons, too, but no matter what the reason, all of it will work for your good. Once you learn this, once you get to where you fully trust Me no matter how deep the drop, you will find that there is joy in dropping with Me. You will be able to experience Me in ways that you can’t on the more level parts of the ride.”
Amalia eyed the track ahead of them. She didn’t know how much longer the ride would last. She didn’t know how many twists, turns, flips, or drops were still ahead. But what she did know was that Jesus was sitting next to her. And if He wasn’t afraid of the drops, then she was going to learn to find that joy He spoke of no matter how many drops it took.
“Okay, Jesus, let’s do this.”
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James says to count it all joy to meet various trials. I believe this includes killer falls on roller coasters. Has anyone learned to do that? Do you have any advice for those of us just learning?
Ps 71:20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.