Amusement Park: Water Ride

Amusement Park: Water Ride

It felt good to be back in the sunshine. Real sunshine, not the harsh artificial lights of the game booths. The air was clean and warm and full of life. Amalia and Jesus walked down the dirt path looking at the various rides she hadn’t been on yet. Suddenly, Jesus pointed.

“That one! It’s what you need right now.”

Amalia looked at the high ride. Another roller coaster?

“Um… I don’t think I’m ready for this one.”

“Don’t worry. It’s not near as high as the roller coaster we went on, nor is it the same. This one has a different focus.”

Letting Jesus lead her, they climbed up the stairs leading to the train cars. Only there weren’t any trains. There were just individual cars, each a different color, lined up waiting for their turns to carry passengers.

Jesus helped Amalia into the first car. “You’re going to love this!”

“If You say so,” Amalia said, eyebrows raised. “I’ll let you know when we get to the end.”

As the car started moving, Amalia checked her seat belt to make sure it was securely buckled, ignoring the humorous look Jesus gave her. Better to be safe than sorry.

The climb up was steep, but not nearly at high. When they got to the top, she sat back, relieved at the gentle downward slope on the other side. Jesus was right. This was not like that horrifying roller coaster. It was much more like a kiddie roller coaster. No death drops here.

She was enjoying the view as they moved steadily along the track, when she felt something wet on her face. Rain? No, not possible. Not on a day this sunny. Looking around, she noticed everything was wet and shiny from the mist in the air. Where was that mist coming from? Within minutes she found out.  A large waterfall rose up directly in front of them, and there was no way around it. They were going to get wet!

“Don’t worry so much, Amalia. This is just a thin waterfall. You’re just going to get sprinkled.”

He was right, as usual. The car moved too quickly through that falling water to drench them. The cool water droplets that fell on her head refreshed her mind seeping all the way down into her heart, and she felt more free than she had since coming out of that game booth area. She hadn’t realized how much hold those games, especially those stars, had had on her mind. Now all desire for them was gone.

“Will there be another waterfall? That one was awesome!”

“No, this one is enough. For now.”

Now fully relaxed, Amalia settled back in her seat. The car continued to follow the track as it went up and down gentle inclines, and around several curves.

“I love this ride,” she told Jesus. “You always know just what I need.”

“I hope you feel the same way when we…”

“Jesus! Where’s the track?” Amalia interrupted, leaning forward. “The track… it’s gone!” She stared at the spot where the track disappeared right into the sky.

“It’s still there. Once we get to the top, you’ll see it.”

Now Amalia noticed the steady rise they had been making. “You mean there is a drop?” She gripped the handlebar tighter. At least this time she was getting a warning.

Then they were over the top and flying almost straight down. Only this time, not only was the drop was much shorter, it ended in a pool of beautiful blue water. Almost before 0531202030 (2)she had time to think about it, the car hit the pool, and water drenched her. Amalia laughed as the car slowed down and floated through the pool. If the sprinkling she had gotten earlier was refreshing, this was absolutely exuberating. She felt so alive, so energized, so… clean!

“Wow, Jesus! This is amazing! Thank You for bringing on this ride!”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it.” He winked at her. “And I’m glad you don’t smell like the game booths anymore.”

 

 

When was the last time you had a spiritual bath?

 

Scripture:

Hebrews 10:21-22  and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

 

Amusement Park: Game Booths

Amusement Park: Game Booths

Legs still shaky from the roller coaster they had just exited, and not ready to chance another ride, Amalia asked Jesus if they could walk around for a little bit.

“Sounds like a great idea. I love watching people.”

Although there weren’t too many people, Amalia had to agree it was fun watching the ones that were there. Smiling couples, excited children, chatting seniors – everyone seemed to be happy to be there. The sun was bright and warm, filling the area with a sense of peace that could almost be touched. Amalia held Jesus’ hand and delighted in the pleasant fragrances of flowers and popcorn that drifted past her in the breeze.

Then they went turned a corner.

Things were different on this side. Gone were the peace and joy and light that Amalia had been enjoying. An ominous cloud seemed to hover over the various booths that lined the path, putting everything in its shadow. The booth attendees compensated by using a variety of artificial light sources. Amalia sniffed. What was that odor? It wasn’t very strong, but definitely unpleasant. However, she forgot about it as soon as she saw the first booth. A lady, dressed in a flowing purple and black robe, and wearing a matching turban, beckoned to Amalia.

“Come, let me tell you of your wondrous future! Would you like your palm read? Or would you prefer to gaze into my crystal ball?”

That sounded intriguing. Who doesn’t want to know their future? She started towards the lady, but Jesus held her back.

“No, Amalia. I hold your future. And I will reveal what is good for you to know. Don’t seek that knowledge from anyone else.”

“I know, Jesus. And I don’t believe she is for real. But what harm is there in playing along? It sounds fun.”

Before He could answer, her attention was drawn to the next booth filled with stars. Pinned on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, and piled on the counter, stars were everywhere. Even the man behind the counter was covered in stars. She loved stars!

“Come right over here, young lady! Come see the heavenly beings that are all around! Forget your future – think of your present! These stars have great power, and can do wondrous things for you.  Have a problem? There’s a star for that! Need more money? There’s a star for that! There are stars for protection, for finding lost things, for bringing you peace. Aren’t they beautiful? They would look great displayed in your home. And you can even share them with your friends. Come, let me find just the right stars for your needs.”

“Look, Jesus! Aren’t these stars glorious?”0530201531 (3)

“You don’t need any.”

“But they are real, right? I mean, I can see the stars in the sky at night, so I know they are real.”

“Stars do dwell in the heavens, but they don’t do what this guy is claiming. Don’t look to them for your needs. Look to Me. I am all that you need.”

Amalia nodded, took a few steps, and then stopped. Maybe she shouldn’t want any, but they sure were tempting.

“What if I took a few home just for decoration? That won’t hurt anything because I will still look to You. I just like looking at them.”

“Amalia, suppose you had a friend who got married. She loved her husband, but wanted to keep some pictures of other men she found attractive in her home. She would never do anything with these men because she was totally committed to her husband, but their photos pleased her eyes. How do you think her husband would react?”

“He’d hate those pictures. He’d want her to get rid of them.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Because he’d be jealous. He wouldn’t want share his home with other men. He’d want all of his wife’s affection. And it might hurt him to think she thought he wasn’t enough for her.”

“But they are just pictures.”

“It’s what they represent.”

“Just like the stars.”

Amalia got it. Just because something looked good didn’t make it good. And it made her feel good to know that Jesus loved her so much that He was jealous for her affection.

The passed the next booth, where a woman offered to contact Amalia’s “dearly departed loved ones” for her.

“Nope, keep walking.” Jesus said. “The only one who’s ever died that you’re allowed to contact is Me.”

“What’s wrong with hearing from someone else?”

“What do people seek from that communication?”

“A lot of people get comfort. Or maybe an answer to a question they have.” Amalia stopped. “Oh, I get where You’re going with this. It has to do with jealousy again, doesn’t it? You want us to go only to You for comfort and answers.”

“And, in this case, to protect you from things you can’t see.” He frowned at the woman. “Besides, most of the time, these people are just playing games. They get good at guessing, reading body language, and being vague enough to deceive you.”

The sound of guitar chords drew Amalia to the next booth. Several people were singing about God’s love. Hearts and flowers were displayed in tasteful ways throughout the booth. Amalia stopped. Finally a good, clean booth. One that Jesus would like, too.

“Hi, would you like to play?” asked the man with the guitar. “You can win some great joy and peace.”

Amalia nodded, but at the same time she noticed Jesus shaking His head. Confused, she turned to look at Him.

“What’s wrong with this booth? They are singing about God’s love. That’s good, isn’t it?”

Instead of answering her, Jesus addressed the man. “Who is God?”

“That depends, man, on who you want god to be. God takes many forms and has many names. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose. Come play our game – the grand prize is a free ride to paradise.”

Amalia shrunk back. Many gods? But their song had sounded so right, so beautiful.

Jesus smiled sadly at her. “Many people have been deceived. You have to look past the outside and see what’s at the core. Don’t let pleasant words deceive you also.”

They continued walking, passing booth after booth of people promising prizes – mighty wonders, or prosperity, or power to make you whatever you wanted to be – all with one catch: you had to pay to play. She tried to stop several times, but each time Jesus pulled her along with the words, “empty promises”. Finally she insisted on stopping at a plain booth where a sweet looking lady was reading the Bible.

“This one has to be okay, She’s reading a Bible!” Amalia told Jesus, and then greeted the woman.

The woman looked up, smiling at first, but then frowned. “If you want to play my game, you have to get rid of some things, like your earrings. And your colorful clothes. You’ll need to put on the ones I give you. Everything must be proper. We don’t want to displease God, do we?”

“But God likes colors…” Amalia began but was interrupted by the woman.

“We need to get rid of everything that might cause us to be prideful. See, it says here in the Bible that God opposes the prideful.”

“But…”

“And it says here,” she turned to another page, “not to be puffed up with pride.”

“But..”

“You do agree that these scriptures are in the Bible, and that the Bible is God’s Word, don’t you? So you have to obey them.”

“But there are many other scriptures. You have to read them all to get what God is saying. You can’t just take one or two out of context like that. When He said not to be prideful, He was talking about…” Again she was cut off.

“You can’t play my game if you don’t agree to follow my rules. And since my rules are from God’s Word, they are God’s rules. Anyone who chooses not to play my game is rebelling against God.” Her frown softened.  “I can see you love God. Come play my game, it’s the only one God approves.”

Amalia turned to Jesus. “Talk to her. Tell her the truth.”

“Come on, Amalia,” Jesus said, guiding her away. “Her mind is made up. She won’t listen to either of us.”

A few steps later, Amalia stopped again, shaking her head. “What is wrong with this place? I thought these games would be fun. But they’re not. And some of them are even scary.”

“Did you notice what they all had in common? They are all under a cloud of deception, so whether they meant to or not, deception was at the root of each. Once you walk under that cloud, it becomes easy to be deceived. And it’s not easy to walk away from it.”

“Unless we have You. You kept me safe from losing in those games. Why…?”

“Why don’t I do the same for everyone else? I try, but they aren’t listening like you are. And some, believe it or not, prefer the deception over the truth.”

“Well, I don’t want any part of deception. Let’s get out of here.”

This time when she started walking, she kept going.

 

What do you think is the greatest deception we face?

 

 

Scriptures:

Abominations (don’t do as the pagans)

Deut 18:10-14 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omen, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this.

Lev 19:31 Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.

Rom 12:2 Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

Jealousy

Deut 4:24  For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Ex 34:14  (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),

Is 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I will give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

James 4:4-5 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?”

 

Deceit

Col 2:8  See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Eph 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Col 2:18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,

Col 2:23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

2 Cor 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

2 Peter 2”1-3a But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.

 

Aroma of God

2 Cor 2:15-16a For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.  (Personal note: if Christians have an aroma, then couldn’t those in the enemy’s camp also have their own aroma? Thus the smell Amalia noticed when she entered the game area.)

Amusement Park: Roller Coaster

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!”0528201352 (2)

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.”

“How?”

“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.”

 

–  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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?

 

Scriptures:

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.

Holy Poison

Something’ was wrong. I didn’t know what it was, but could sense something happening in me. My ten-year-old body was becoming increasingly hot, like I was burning from the inside out. Which didn’t make sense because I wasn’t in the sun. The approaching evening, although not cold, was not hot either. And besides, I was in my bedroom. And yet, I could feel the internal fire growing by the minute. This was not good.

My thoughts flew from the fire in me to the sudden sounds of wild commotion coming from the kitchen. One of my siblings was crying. Maybe more than one. My mom was talking in a higher than normal pitch, And the sound of many small feet running across the wooden floor was accompanied by shrieks and shouts.

It didn’t take long to find out why. We had all been poisoned. All six of us kids as well as my mom. Everyone seemed to be reacting to the poison in slightly different ways. Whereas a few of us felt the fiery poison on the inside, some had no internal discomfort. However, their faces were turning increasingly red, and, as funny as it seemed to us at the time, the only indication of the poison flowing through one of my brothers was his two bright red ears.

My dad, who had just gotten home from work, drove us to the emergency room, where 0526201852 (2)we were all given a small cup of something to drink. “To make you throw up,” the nurse told us. “That will get rid of the poison.” Everyone swallowed their cup of something. Everyone except me. I didn’t want to throw up. I didn’t like throwing up. And I didn’t like unknown liquids. So I held my cup, and wished I was anywhere but there.

As my mom and siblings took turns throwing up, I heard my parents discussing how it must have been the frozen homemade applesauce we had eaten at dinner. They were talking about something bad being in that applesauce. Maybe too much preservative. I don’t know. But whatever it was, we didn’t taste it or see it. And yet, it was definitely hurting us.

Finally everyone had purged. Except me. I still clung to that cup of strange liquid in spite of all the encouraging, shaming, bribing, and threatening my parents did. I could handle all that without caving in. What I couldn’t handle was the threat from the nurse: “If you don’t throw up by the time I get back, I’m going to have to give you a shot.” I dreaded needles more than strange liquid, so I downed the cup, and soon became one of the purged.

The next day, I looked suspiciously at the containers of tainted applesauce as my mom pulled them from the freezer. They didn’t look any more evil now than they had looked or tasted the night before.

“Mom, how do you know they’re poisoned? They look just like the good applesauce we’ve eaten before.”

“I know they’re poisoned because I reread the directions on the box of preservatives.  I got the directions wrong.”

“Can’t we eat them anyway,” my brother asked. “They taste too good to get rid of. We can just go throw up again later.”

I understood what my brother felt. It did seem like such a waste of something delicious. But then I remembered the consequence of allowing the bad as well as the good into my mouth. So I nodded agreement with my mom as she told him, “Nope, not worth it, Better to make a new batch, and this time pay better attention to the instructions.”

 

–   –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

 

True story. I might have gotten the timing slightly off, but my mother did accidentally poison us with too much of a preservative in some applesauce she had made. She didn’t mean to, and she felt really bad about if for a long time. But it happened.

As does spiritual poisoning. Sometimes good sounding teachings actually contains poison that will hurt our spirits. Not all, but many of these teachers, preachers, ministers, priests, friends, whatever don’t mean to hurt us. They often don’t even know the poison is there. But if they use the Word incorrectly, such as taking scriptures out of context, they can contaminate their message with what I call holy poison. It looks, sounds, and tastes just as spiritual as the rest of that biblical teaching, except it’s not. We may not recognize it right away, but eventually all who ingest it will pay the consequences.

We can learn to discern holy poison by knowing what the Bible says.  In a way, it’s like when I was learning to hunt shark teeth. At first I was frequently tricked by broken shells that looked like teeth, but the more teeth I found and studied, the easier and faster it became to discern between shells and teeth. The same hold true for God’s Word. The better we know the Bible, the easier to spot something that is contrary to it.

We also need to pay attention to the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.  Jesus said His Spirit would guide us into all truth. So, if we are listening, He will alert us when we come in contact with something poisonous to our spirits.

But what about the poison we may have already ingested?  What about erroneous doctrines and ideas we accepted years ago that may be having an effect on our spiritual life now? It’s not too late. If we are sincere in our desire to be cleaned from the poison, and we ask God to show anything unclean in us, He will answer that request. If He reveals something, we can either allow the poison to continue to contaminate our beliefs, or we can accept His cup of antidote and purge it. Purging may not be pretty or dignified, and it will probably cause some discomfort, but – at least to me – it is better than something more drastic. Like a needle. God is a big God. I can only imagine how big His needle is.

 

 

Behind the Story

I wrote Holy Poison with the hope that it may help us, me included, to be more discerning of what we allow into our belief systems, and to ask God to reveal anything we hold on to that we shouldn’t. Years ago He had me examine what I believed, and I ended up I purging some big lies that I had grown up with, such as the belief that only Catholics were going to heaven. Recently He has started working to cleanse me from some subtler wrong beliefs that I’ve held in my heart for years. They sound and feel just as biblical as the rest of my beliefs – many even have scriptures to base them on – and yet they are not true. It turns out that those scriptures had been taken out of context. Facing those errors, and letting go of them, has not been easy or comfortable. But my greatest desire is to be completely pleasing to God, so I will continue to drink the cup and purge until I am clean.

What about you? Has God had you examine your own beliefs? If so, how? If not, how do you feel about the need to know what we believe and why we believe it? If you feel comfortable enough, please comment below. I would love to read your story!

 

 

Scriptures

Ps 51:6-7 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Ps 26:2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.

John: 14:16-17    And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you..

John 16:13  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

1 Timothy 4:1a Now the Spirit expressly says that in the later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared…

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:6-7 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Hebrews 5:13-14 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the world of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Philippians 1:9-10  And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ

Amusement Park: Ferris Wheel

Amusement Park: Ferris Wheel

“Are You sure we’re safe?” Amalia sat still, eyes staring straight ahead, not daring to move a muscle, fearing even the smallest twitch would cause the pod they were sitting in to rock dangerously.

“Perfectly safe. You’re with Me, remember?”

“Yeah, but I don’t like heights.”

“You did when you were on the mountain. Remember the view from the top?”

“That was different. I was standing on solid ground, not sitting in a rising pod that could flip over at any moment.”

“It won’t, but let’s say it did. You’d still be fine. Even upside down, with that seat belt, you’re not going down.”

Amalia wasn’t convinced. “What if the seat belt isn’t enough?”

“Is that why you’re holding on so tightly to this handle bar?.” He touched her fist, white from its death grip on the bar. “You don’t have to hold on to it at all.”

“Easy for You to say. If we flipped over, You’d probably stay right there on the seat while I plummet to my death. Gravity has no hold on You.”

“Amalia… Amy, my love… I thought You trusted Me. What did I tell you when we sat down in this pod?”

“You said this seat belt would keep me safe.”

“And do you believe Me?”

“Um… yes…”

“Then why are you still holding on to the handle bar?”

Amalia didn’t know what to say. Jesus never lied, and if He said the seat belt was enough, then it must be. But shouldn’t she also do her part to keep herself safe, like keeping perfectly still and holding on to the stronger-looking bars she could see right in front of her? She knew the belt was fastened across her lap, she had seen and felt it as Jesus buckled her in when they first sat down, but now, with her gaze frozen straight ahead, she could no longer see it. How could she trust something she couldn’t see? What if it wasn’t fastened securely anymore?0522201752 (2)

“Amalia, where is your trust right now?” Jesus asked as they came to a stop at the top of the Ferris wheel.

“It’s on You,” she answered quickly.

“Is it really?”

“Yes.”

“Then let go.”

“You don’t mean that! What’s wrong with me holding on?”

“It shows where your trust really is.”

“But I trust You. I wouldn’t even be here without You. Holding the bars just make me feel better. Like I have some control.”

“That’s just it. You have no control. There is nothing you can do, or not do, that would save you if this pod tipped over. Only the belt I placed on you can do that.”

“Well, if the bar can’t keep me from falling, then why is it there?”

“It forms a sort of boundary. It’s not meant to keep you from falling, but to keep your ride more enjoyable. As long as you stay behind it, there’s little chance of the pod tipping over. But if you go beyond it, there’s a good chance the pod will begin to move in ways you don’t like, and, if it tips drastically, you may experience loss. Not loss of your life, because the belt is still on, but loss of loose things which may fall, such as a hat, sunglasses, or things in your pocket or purse.”

“Oh.”

“Look around, Amalia. There is nothing as invigorating as riding a Ferris wheel with Me. There’s so much you can see from here. It’s almost like you can see into forever.”

Amalia loosened her grip on the bars, but didn’t let go. She slowly turned her eyes from side to side. Jesus was right. The sight was amazing! The amusement park laid out in front of her, leading to streets and highways filled with people journeying towards their destinations, and even further, the greens and browns of fields and forests. And the  endless sky! It was like she was part of it, and yes, it felt like looking into forever.

But could she let go of the handle bars? Could she put all her trust in the seat belt Jesus had fastened on her? Could she let go of her fear, and trust what He had told her?

As the pod slowly descended, she found herself relaxing. Yes, maybe she could let go. Jesus had always been trustworthy. The belt was there. She was safe. And the closer she got to the ground, the safer she felt. She was just about to let go when the pod began rising again. Fear filled her one more, and her fists tightened on their own accord as the ground receded. She knew in her head that she was still safe regardless of what she saw around her, but her heart was not agreeing. Doubts flooded her. What if she had heard Jesus wrong? What if she had misunderstood His words? What if being safe from falling required both the belt and the handle bars? Wasn’t she responsible for doing what she could, too?

“Jesus, help me,” she whispered. “I want to enjoy this ride. I want to trust what You say. But I’m still afraid.”

“Amalia,” came back the gentle voice. “You have to choose. Where will you put your trust? Will you put it in what you do? Or will you put it in what I have done?”

Put that way, Amalia knew what her decision would be. Yet it didn’t come easy for her. Her grip on the handle bars tightened and loosened in time with the rising and lowering of the pod as they continued revolving in the giant vertical circle. Eventually, though, she got tired of the struggle, and knew the time had come. She had to choose. More than that, she had to act on her choice.

“Okay, Jesus. I choose what You did, not what I do.” She took a deep breath, and then quickly, before she could change her mind, took her hands off the bar. Immediately she grabbed Jesus’ hands with both of hers. “Hold me, Lord. I’m completely depending on You.”

“I’m always holding you, my sweet Amalia.” Jesus’ delighted voice washed over her, filling her heart with peace. “Now we can enjoy this ride together.”

As the Ferris wheel continued to turn, Amalia found herself doing just that. Talking about what they saw, snuggling up against each other, and laughing at each other’s jokes, they became totally engrossed in the ride. From time to time, Amalia forgot about – or chose to go beyond – the boundary, and leaned out over the bar to see something that caught her attention, causing the pod to tip. But each time, she apologized to Jesus for rocking their pod, and it would return to the gentle upright swaying that she had grown to love.

Way too soon, the ride slowed and came to an end. Amalia sighed as she exited the pod. Would any other ride here even come close to the joy of this one?

“Jesus, can we ride the Ferris wheel again?”

“Yes, and, actually, in a way, you’ll always be riding it. But right now I have another ride in mind. Are you ready?”

“With You, I’m ready for anything!”

Little did she know how quickly she would regret those words.

 

 

Application:

Have you ever thought about where your trust for salvation is? Or how much of your trust is in Jesus? I struggled with that as a new Christian years ago, and wonder how many other people did the same. I’d love to hear your story!

 

Biblical Basis

Eph 6:14a  Stand, therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth… (or in Amalia’s case: “Sit there…”)

John 14:6  Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 

Eph. 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ps 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Amusement Park: Food Booths

Amusement Park: Food Booths

Amalia’s mouth watered at the tantalizing smells wafting out of the food booths. Grabbing Jesus’ hand, she pulled Him with her as she headed for the nearest booth.

“Oooo… I love cotton candy! Can we get some, p0517201823 (2)lease?”

“Cotton candy is pretty sweet, but is that what you really need right now?”

“No, but it sure does taste good!”

“That it does.” He laughed. “And there are times when cotton candy is the perfect thing to eat. Right now, though, I think you should have something a bit more substantial.”

Pulling her gaze from the rows of softly colored sparkly treats, she followed Jesus as He walked towards the next booth. Shiny apples, coated with creamy caramel, and covered with a variety of fun toppings, greeted her gaze.

“Yummy! These are perfect! Sweet, yet apples also full of vitamins I want the one with chopped nuts… no, the one with the cookie crumbs…”

“These are more nourishing, that’s true.  They make a wonderful snack, and will satisfy you for the moment, but you’ll soon be hungry again. Aren’t you hungry for a full meal?”

“Yes, but these look really good.”

“If you really want one, I’m not going to stop you. You have the freedom to choose whatever you want. But I know there’s something better for you a little further on.”

Amalia looked from Jesus to the caramel apples, and back to Jesus. “Oh…  okay… You’re probably right.”

They passed several more booths offering tasty snacks – and each time Amalia had to resist the temptation to settle on something less than what Jesus wanted for her.

Finally they approached a booth offering a wide variety of meals. “Ah, here you go.” Jesus said. “Just what you need.”

Amalia frowned at the menu board. Despite the names, such as Hamburger Heaven, Happy Hot Dog, Taco Tower, and Perfect Pizza,  none sounded as fun as the treats they had passed. “Which do I have I choose?”

“That’s totally up to you. They each have a meat or protein, and some vegetables, and that’s important to build your body. If you only ate sweets, your body would grow weak.” Jesus paused, and then added, “You know, choosing what to read in the Bible is kind of like choosing what to eat. You need to read more than just the sweet, fun scriptures. You know, the satisfying ones that make you feel good. There’s nothing wrong with those, in fact, they’re quite important. But you also need to read the meatier verses. The ones that you have to chew on – the ones that make you have to think and sometimes make hard choices. You may not like them as much, and they may not go down as easily as a milkshake, but they are also very important for your spiritual health.”

Amalia thought about that for a few minutes. “Hmmm… I like some foods better than others, and some foods I don’t like at all. It’s the same with scriptures. I don’t like the ones that talk about being persecuted for doing right, or having to control my body and mind, or of God’s jealousy and judgment. I much prefer the ones about God loving me and taking care of me. But if I only read the pleasant ones, I wouldn’t have a balanced view of God or of living a spiritual life.”

“Exactly.”

“Oh, oh, oh..” Amalia almost danced. “I know something else! Just like treats are fine in between the meals that I need for a strong and healthy body, short readings, such as Verse of the Day and daily devotionals, are good, but need to be in between longer readings, such as whole chapters at a time. And, just like I need to eat a wide variety of foods for optimum physical health, I can do that spiritually by reading through the whole Bible.”

She looked back at the menu board with a new attitude. “That Blazing Barbeque sandwich plate with the salad and sweet potato fries looks pretty good! And then…” she turned to Jesus with a grin, “we’ll go get some cotton candy.”

 

 

The Bible Says…

The Bible tells us to increase in knowledge of God.

Col 1:10   so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

 

One way we do that is by reading God’s Word, which is sometimes compared to eating.

Ps 119:103  How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Ps 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Proverbs 2 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 2:10 for wisdom comes into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant for your soul.

Jer 3:15  And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Rev. 3:20  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

 

Using that analogy, I thought it would be interesting to compare the way we read the Bible to the way we eat. Thus Amalia’s lesson with the food today.

 

How do you feed upon God’s Word?

 

 

 

 

 

Amusement park: Puppet Show

Amusement park: Puppet Show

The sound of lively music greeted Amalia and Jesus as the merry-go-round slowed to a stop. The fast, happy notes hinted at something fun that was about to happen, and Jesus and Amalia decided to check it out. Along the way they walked through drifting scents of popcorn, barbecue grills, and funnel cakes.

“Mmm… that’s smells delicious! Can we get something to eat next?” Amalia asked, taking a big sniff.

“Sure.” Jesus grinned at her as her stomach gave out a loud rumble. “Sounds like your stomach agrees with your nose.”

A few minutes later, they found a group of chairs lined up in front of a curtained stage. Some of the chairs were occupied by a few people, but most chairs were empty. Jesus led Amalia to a couple of chairs in the first row. Just as they sat down, the music stopped, the curtain opened, and a man walked to the center of the stage.

“Hello, ladies and gentlemen! I am thrilled that you are here! We have a special treat for you today. The Teppup family has invited you to join them as they work in their garden. Mr. Teppup is digging up the ground with the help of his older daughter, while the younger two kids are helping their mother with the flats of small plants. It seems they are having a wonderful family bonding experience…” The man hesitates as the sound of yelling comes from behind the curtain. “Or maybe not. We’d better go see what’s happening.” He motions to the curtain, which opens as he backs his way off stage. “Ladies and gentlemen, the Teppup family!”

Amalia smiled when she saw the family. She loved puppets! This was going to be great!

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“I want to plant the purple flowers!” yelled a small girl. “Purple is my favorite color!”

“No, I chose them first, so they’re mine!” the smaller boy yelled back while grabbing the flowers out of her hands.

“Mo-om! Make him give me the purple ones!”

“That’s enough. From both of you. I’LL decide who plants what. Right now I want you to work together to get all the plants out of the flat regardless of the color of the flowers.”

With some grumbling, and a little pushing, the kids got back to work. The mother sighed, “Those kids must hate me. They’re always making my life hard,” as she turned around and continued removing the small plants from her flat. Sometimes she could slip the plant easily from the flat, loosen its roots, and lay it on a tray. But more often the plants didn’t come out without a lot of tugging, shaking, and prodding. And these plants didn’t always make it out in one piece. Mrs. Teppup got increasingly frustrated and began complaining against people who pack plants in stupid flats that make it impossible to get the plants out without damaging them. Suddenly a squeal erupted from behind her, and she turned just in time for a small plant to crash into her face. The kids, covered in dirt, were pointing to each other.

 “It’s her fault!”

“He did it!”

“No I didn’t ! You did!”

Mrs. Teppup groaned, and then said, “Both of you – get inside and clean up. And don’t come back out until you can get along.” She picked up the tray, took one last look at the mess her kids had made, then walked to the garden plot her husband and older daughter had just finished tilling.

“How’s it going over here?” She asked as she set the tray on the ground.

“From the sound of it, better than it’s going over there with you and the kids.”

“Yeah,” the older daughter agreed. “Those two are always a pain.”

“I didn’t say that,” Mr. Teppup said. “I said…”

“It doesn’t matter,” Mrs. Teppup interrupted. “Let’s not get into another debate. Is the ground ready?”

“Yes it is. And we did good, didn’t we dad?” the girl answered.

“It’s perfect,” he said as he touched the dirt. “You can start planting whenever you want.”

“Aren’t you going to help?” Mrs. Teppup, eyebrows raised, looked from father to daughter.

“Um… I thought we just had to dig up the weeds…” the girl said. “I… have some… things I need to do.”

“And the football game is about to start,” Mr. Teppup said. “You knew that.”

“But I thought… forget it. You do whatever you want. I don’t need you.” She bent down, picked up a plant, and shoved it into the dirt. In a low voice, she grumbled, “They’re just like everyone else – always letting me down. They…”

 

Amalia stopped listening and turned to Jesus. “I thought this was supposed to be funny. But it’s not. I don’t want to watch anymore. Can we leave?”

“I agree with you. Let’s go.”

They got up quietly, and headed back towards the food area. As they walked, Jesus asked Amalia a question.

“What was Mrs. Teppup’s main problem?”

Amalia wasn’t sure. “Her family?”

“Why do you think that?”

“Because the kids kept fighting and her husband and older daughter left her to plant the flowers by herself.”

“I’m sure Mrs. Teppup would have agreed with you. But think a little deeper. What was really happening?”

“Well, the kids each wanted the purple flowers… Mrs. Teppup was complaining about everything, and Mr. Teppup and the older daughter wanted to go do their own things… so… maybe they were all thinking about themselves, and not each other.”

“Right. What should Mrs. Teppup do about that?”

“Trade them in for new family members. Or treat them like they are treating her, and not do anything for them.”

“Really?”

“I guess not. Maybe have a family meeting. She could tell the others how she feels when they act that way.”

“That’s a good idea. But there’s an even better, more important, one.”

Amaila thought, but couldn’t come up with any other ideas that topped this one. “I give up. What?”

“Mrs. Teppup’s struggle is not really against her husband and children. It’s against the unseen puppeteers who are controlling the strings. So she should pray. ”

Amalia laughed. “Of course! They are just puppets!”

“But it’s kind of like that with people, too. There are spiritual forces influencing how people act. These forces don’t actually control people like the puppeteers control the puppets, but they can influence people to think and act in ways that may bother other people. Or may make someone feel more bothered than they should be.”

“So Mrs. Teppup should look past what she sees to what she can’t see, and pray?”

“Exactly.”

“But pray what? That God makes her family act better?”

“Well, if she prayed that God changed their hearts, including her own, to be turned towards Him, and if she looked for ways to share His love with them, the end result would be a more loving family.”

“But what about the spiritual forces?”

“God will fight those battles for her, if she trusts Him to do so, and doesn’t try to do it on her own.”

“One more question,” Amalia said, sniffing the air. “Can we go eat now?”

 

 

 

Scripture

Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

2 Cor 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Philippians 2:4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.

Amusement Park: Merry-Go-Round

Amusement Park: Merry-Go-Round

Amalia didn’t know how to answer Jesus. Go on another ride? She was just barely recovering from the first one. If all the rides here were like the Haunted House, she didn’t know if she could take another ride.

“Can we just sit somewhere? I think I need some time before attempting another ride with You.”

“My thoughts exactly. And I know just the place.”

He led her across the park towards the sound of organ music. When she saw the ride He was heading for, she relaxed. This was perfect. A bunch of horses going up and down – just up and down – while rotating around a large colorful column. Even better, behind a few of the horses were carts that were not moving at all.

“I want to ride on a cart.” Amalia pointed, determined to have as much peace as she could on this ride. The less movement, the less chance something crazy would happen.

“Good idea.”

The ride was pretty much what Amalia expected, with two exceptions. The cart was not quite as comfortable as it had looked, and it wasn’t as smooth. No lying down and sleeping here. As long as she sat up, she could deal with the hard seat, and she had already learned to accept bumps so those didn’t bother her. Instead, she enjoyed focusing on the different parts of the park as they came into her vision. It almost seemed as if she was stationary and the world was rotating around her.

After a while, Amalia’s focus shifted, and she became fascinated with the horses she could see in front of her. They were always moving. At first it looked like they were all doing the same thing. Up. Down. Up. Down. But as she looked closer, she notices something surprising. No two horses looked alike, or followed the same pattern. The red one went up only part way before heading back down. The blue one stayed higher than the others, never making it all the way down. The green one stayed near the floor for longer time periods before heading back up.  And the brown one went up and down at a faster pace than the others. Intrigued with her discovery, she turned to Jesus.0508201945 (2)

“Have You noticed the horses are all moving in different ways, even though they are all going in the same direction?”

“Yup. That’s what they were created to do. Just like people. There are ups and downs in everyone’s life. Some people, though, seem to stay down longer than up, while some people never seem to get all the way down at all. Some people seem to travel the ups and downs at a leisurely pace, while others race through them. None of them are better or worse than the others, just different. It’s easiest to see that when you sit back and look at the big picture, like we’re doing now.”

“So, if I were on one of the horses…”

“You would see the movement around you, but your own movement might make it harder to see the pattern. It’s good to sit back with Me from time to time to see this, otherwise you might be tempted to compare your horse with the others.”

Amalia could see the point He was making. And then she thought of her own point.

“They’re all going around the same thing – that center column. Doesn’t it contain the motor? And doesn’t the motor supply the power to make these horses move? Wouldn’t that be like God supplying what we need to live this life as long as we stay connected to Him?”

Jesus’ eyes twinkled as He nodded at her. “Excellent! And those who keep God centered will always be close to Him.”

Amalia sat back, delighting in His praise. She knew sooner or later this ride would end, but for now, she was content to be right where she was.

 

 

Scriptures

2 Cor 10:12  Not that we care to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

1 Cor 7:17a  Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Amusement Park: Haunted House Ride, Seventh Room – Bumps

Amusement Park: Haunted House Ride, Seventh Room – Bumps

Amalia was pleasantly surprised to find herself in another beautiful room. The murals that were painted on the walls, ceiling, and floor were so realistic that she felt as if they were on a gently winding country road lined on both sides by trees, lush green fields full of colorful flowers, and, in the distance, glistening blue lakes. She could even hear the sounds of birds calling to each other, feel a breeze on her face, and, every now and then, she could hear the babbling of streams flowing over rocks. Amazing what technology could do. This room was more in line with what she expected a haunted house ride should be. Everything was explainable. She sighed. This is how a ride with Jesus should be.

Grateful for the chance to rest after the strenuous climb of the previous room, Amalia settled back in her seat. She closed her eyes, and let the vibration of the car running smoothly on the track lull her into a dream state. She heard Jesus’ voice a few times, but it seemed to be coming from so far away that she easily dismissed it in favor of her delicious drowsiness.

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The car gave a sudden lurch as if it had clattered across something in its path. Amalia opened one eye, but, not seeing anything to worry about, closed it again. Whatever the bump was, it wasn’t something to be concerned about. But then they went over another bump, and another. Each time the bump seem to be larger until Amalia was disturbed enough to open her eyes and sit up.

“Jesus, what’s going on?”

“Just some bumps.”

Amalia frowned. “Those bumps are messing up our ride.”

“Really?”

“Yes, they’re very uncomfortable. Can You make it stop?”

“What? The ride?”

Amalia stared at Him. “Jesus, You know what I mean. Make the bumps stop.”

“Why would I do that?”

“So they aren’t bothering us.”

“They aren’t bothering Me.”

“Fine. So that they’re aren’t bothering ME. Every time I start to fall asleep, we hit another bump, and I’m wide awake again.”

“Is that a problem?”

“Of course that’s a problem! I’m tired after the last room, and it felt good to close my eyes and let my mind drift. I can’t do that if we keep running into uncomfortable bumps. Will You do something?”

She watched, but nothing changed. The bumps were still there, and Jesus didn’t seem to do anything as they collided with yet another one. She turned back to Him. “If You’re not going to do anything, I will. I’ll go move those bumps myself.”

“You can if you really want to, but then you won’t be riding with Me.”

Amalia looked down at the bumpy track, then back at Jesus. She didn’t want to leave Him, but she also didn’t want to deal with a bumpy ride. “Why can’t You get rid of them?”

“I could if I wanted to, but it’s not necessary.”

“But…”

“Amalia, you have a choice. You could walk on your own, handling the bumps yourself, or stay with Me. The bumps are part of staying with Me.”

“But, riding with You should be easy and smooth. Why do we have to deal with these bothersome bumps?”

“Why do you think riding with Me is supposed to be smooth? I never told you that.”

“But, You’re God. You can easily make the way smooth. And You..  You…” Amalia thought hard. “You promised to always take care of me. Isn’t making my way smooth part of taking care of me? Besides, You love me. Don’t You want me to be happy?”

“Full of joy, yes. But happiness? That’s so conditional on circumstances. So no, some things are more important than your happiness.”

“What in the world are You talking about?”

“Exactly. You are in the world, and bumps – or problems – are part of that world. They are going to happen. I could remove them, but instead, I use them for your good. And sometimes I even put them there to slow you down, or to get your attention. What were you doing before we started hitting the bumps?”

“Um… I think I was falling asleep.”

“Were you thinking of Me? Talking to Me? Listening for My voice?”

“No, not really.”

“And what did you do as soon as you couldn’t ignore the bumps anymore?”

“I sat up, and asked You about them.”

“Right. You started interacting with Me again. So the bumps served to get your attention back on Me. Don’t get frustrated. Know that they are there for a reason.”

Amalia thought about that for a while. Then another thought came to her. “What if someone else put a bump there to hurt me?”

“It doesn’t matter. Whether I put the bumps there or someone else, I use them all for your good. You may not always understand their purposes, but you can trust Me and My love for you. I only want good for you even if it doesn’t always look that way to you. As you learn to accept the bumps, you will grow in patience and endurance. And you will learn to be full of joy no matter the circumstances. And that’s more precious to Me at this time than your comfort. So… you have a choice: you can handle them on your own, or trust Me to know what’s best for you.”

Put that way, Amalia resigned herself to a bumpy road. If Jesus wasn’t concerned the constant irritation of the bumps, she would try to accept it, too. This part of the ride wasn’t going to last forever. She wasn’t so sure of the joy part, but she could grit her teeth and be patient until they got to the next door.

They continue through that room, hitting bump after bump. Some Amalia could see coming, others took her by surprise. Eventually she began to learn to look to her Friend, trusting His wisdom each time they hit one, and, even more so, to enjoy the times between the bumps. She still didn’t like the bumps, but she didn’t let them destroy her enjoyment of the beauty of this room nor steal her joy of riding with Jesus.

And about the time she realized how much she had accepted the ride as it was and not as she wanted, they arrived at the next door.

She was at first blinded by the light that exploded around her as the door opened, and then realized it came from the sun. The real sun. And a fresh breeze caressing her skin. A real breeze, complete with the scents of heavy machinery, popcorn, and grilled burgers. They were outside!

When the car came to a stop, Jesus stood up, pulling Amalia up with Him. “So, what did you think?” He asked her as they climbed out.

“It was nothing like I thought it was going to be, but it was also way better than I thought it could be. You’re just full of surprises, aren’t You?”

“Always.” He smiled. “Ready for another ride?”

 

 

 

Scriptures

James 1:2-4  Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so 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 hose who are called according to his purpose.

Philippians 4:11-13  Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. I how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and very circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.