Amusement Park: Bumper Cars
Amalia knew where she wanted to go next. The one ride she would have some control. She wanted to have her hands on the steering wheel for a change, instead of be driven by something she couldn’t see. Jesus agreed to give her that chance, and they made their way to the bumper cars.
“Hey, this is new.” Amalia pointed to a sign. “This ride has a prize. First one to it gets it. This is going to be even more fun than I thought.”
She picked out a red car, her favorite color, and climbed in. Jesus stood by the entrance gate.
“Jesus, aren’t You coming?”
“I thought you wanted to be in control.”
“I do, but I still want You with me. Please, come ride this with me.”
She smiled as He climbed in next to her. Seat belts fastened, foot on the pedal, and hands on the steering wheel, Amalia studied the arena. Cars were lined up all along the edges. As soon as the power was turned on, she knew they would all be heading for the prize, taking the shortest route possible. That meant they would all be heading across the center.
“Jesus,” she whispered, “I have a plan. If I can avoid the center, I can get past the massive gridlock the other cars will make in the center by going around the perimeter, and get to the prize first.”
“You think that will work?” He whispered back. “What if they all have the same idea?”
“I doubt it, but to make sure, I’ll wait a few minutes before starting off.”
“Okay, let’s see what happens.”
Sure enough, as soon as the power was on, fifteen cars headed for the center. A few other cars seem to be having trouble moving, or had the same idea as Amalia.
“See? I told You! Now watch as I sneak around and grab the prize.”
Amalia maneuvered the car slowly around the edge, only moving towards the center when going around cars still parked along the wall. As she passed them, she noticed that they were actually empty. No wonder they had not moved – easy obstacles to avoid.
As she turned the last corner, she saw victory right before her. Excited, she stepped on the peddle, and turned to Jesus, “See? My plan wor…”
Thrown forward, Amalia jerked herself off the steering wheel.
“Hey! I was here first!”
“So what? I’m here now!”
“Move out of my way!”
While Amalia argued with the driver of the brown car, a yellow car shot past them towards the prize.
“Hey!” Amalia threw her car in reverse, backed up as fast as she could, then took off full speed after the yellow car. “Oh, no you don’t!”
The yellow car came to a sudden halt as it crashed into a green car. Amalia whooped and rushed past both. Waving at the drivers furiously trying to untangle their cars, Amalia turned to Jesus. “This is fun! I can feel the prize in my hands already!”
“You think so? You might want…”
Amalia hit the steering wheel again as a pink car slammed into her from behind. Frowning, she turned slightly away from the prize to go around a stationary car, only to find her way blocked by purple car. Turned even further towards the center, Amalia grew frustrated. The prize was so close, and now she was being forced to move in a different direction. No longer confident she would get to the prize first, and not even remembering that Jesus was in the car with her, she began bumping into any car in her way, hoping the impact would remove them from her path. But it just made things worse.
“Turn to the left.”
The whisper was so quiet, she wasn’t sure she had heard it correctly. Turn left? But that would take her even further from the prize. It didn’t make sense. She decided to ignore it as she saw a way opening up to her right. Rushing towards it, she got there just as the brown car did. As the pink car crashed into her again, she was pushed into the brown car. A green car swooped up on her right at the same time as a blue car did the same on her left. She was blocked on all sides! Maybe turning right had not been the best decision. Maybe she should have listened to that whisper.
It took a few minutes for the cars to untangle, and then Amalia was free again. She looked around to orient herself. The prize was now behind her. Frowning, she watched the movement of the other cars for a moment. A few seemed to be heading towards the prize, but most were heading in other directions. That was a relief. She wasn’t competing against everyone. But the ones she was competing against were closer to the prize than she was. Time for a new strategy.
As she moved slowly along her newly planned route, things seemed to be working out just as she had hoped. She was closing in on the prize, and as the yellow car moved off to its right, the path opened and she had a straight shot towards the prize.
“Turn to the right.”
That whisper again. But why right? There was nothing in her way so turning aside made no sense. She decided to ignore it again, and floored the pedal under her foot.
Crash! A red car came careening around the yellow car and ran solidly into her left side. Amalia straightened up, yelled at the driver, and then tried to go forward only to be stopped by two cars bumping into each other right in front of her. She would have to back up again.
Totally frustrated, yet not willing to give up, Amalia backed only as far as she had to before turning to the right. Turn to the right? Isn’t that what the voice has whispered? Maybe she should have listened.
The whisper yet again. This time Amalia decided to obey. What did she have to lose? None of her plans had worked out. She watched the other drivers disentangle and start off again, only to have new cars create another gridlock.
She stepped on the pedal and turned right even though it looked like she was heading right into path of an oncoming orange car. Closing her eyes, she kept going, anticipating a crash, but trusting the whisper. Nothing. No crash. Not even a bump. Amalia opened her eyes. The orange car had turned off, and there was now only one thing in front of Amalia. And it wasn’t a car. The prize dangled from a rope an arm’s length away. Amalia quickly swooped in and grabbed it.
“I got it! I got it!”
She held it to her chest and looked around. No one was watching. No one seemed to care. Except maybe the driver of the brown car. But he looked like he had something in his arms too, and he was grinning from ear to ear. Then she remembered Jesus.
“I got it, Jesus!”
“But I’m a little confused. My plans – the ones that made sense – weren’t working out, but when I listened to the whisper, even though it didn’t make sense, I won.
“Yeah, about that. Your plans don’t always work out because you have limited sight, and can only see in the present. I see the whole picture, and I know the future. So I always know the best way to get anywhere.”
“That was You?”
“Why didn’t I recognize Your voice?”
“You were too busy focusing on your own plans.”
“Then why didn’t You speak louder?”
“I didn’t need to. You heard Me. Either you were going to listen, or not. Speaking louder wouldn’t have changed that.”
Amalia’s face turned red. “’I’m sorry. I didn’t listen at first, and I even forgot You were with me.”
“I forgive you. You listened in the end, and that’s what counts.”
As they climbed out of the car, Amalia remembered something else. “What about that guy in the brown car? Why does he look so happy? He acts like he won.”
“He did. You both did. The prize is like heaven, and the rope is like Me. I hold out the prize to all who want it badly enough to go for it, and to persevere when things get crazy. There are others here who won also.”
Amalia danced to the exit, holding her prize in one hand, and Jesus’ hand in her other. This ride had not worked out like she expected. It had worked out even better.
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Does anyone besides me have a life that feels like a bumper car ride?
Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
Proverbs 14:12 (also Proverbs 16:25) There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
Philippians 3:15 I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.