The last time I was on a roller coaster was in a small theme park in the suburbs of Metro Manila called Enchanted Kingdom. It was a short, rocket-themed coaster that surprised me by whipping us all backwards the same way we came. I didn’t expect the reversal and got so dizzy and pale that I decided to lay off the things temporarily. That was … probably about 9 years ago.
Then last June 27, we found ourselves at Six Flags park in Vallejo, California, braving the crowds with a one-year-old baby in tow, to get a glimpse of Shouka the killer whale, and to line up for the kiddie rides. My family was challenging me to get onboard the coaster so I picked the safest one around, the old, rickety wooden coaster named ROAR. I stood in line alone, rode alone, and was pleasantly surprised about how that one ride encapsulated how I feel about life right now. These 4 points sum up why I think life is pretty much a roller coaster ride:
Old Woody Rollercoaster ROAR. Photo by david.nikonvscanon on flickr
1. It’s Got Its Ups and Downs
A valley precedes a hill. A down precedes an up. And there are always more waiting of both ups and downs. When you’re troubled about a trial, realize it’s all part of one swift ride, and that a triumph awaits in due time. It’s one difficulty in a dizzying sea of future and past victories. You will survive by God’s grace.
1 There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build.
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
2. It’s Over Before You Know It
At the end of the ride on ROAR, I seriously thought we were getting ready to go on a second, more thrilling section of the ride. Wrong. It was over too quickly. I wanted more but there was no more to be had. Woe to he who lives his earthly life without making it count for the glory of God.
James 4:14 You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears
3. Keep Your Eyes Open
Precisely because the rollercoaster ride lasts mere seconds, it’s a great waste to experience it with eyes closed. And yet isn’t that how a lot of people live in their daily lives? Blind to the truth, blind to the blessings, deaf to God’s call, deaf to God’s Word. In a parable in Mark 4, Jesus tells us that He is planting His word in our hearts so that it might bear fruit. May we be fertile soil that hears His Word:
Mark 4:9 He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”
4. It’s More Painful When You Struggle Against the Harness
My natural reaction at the onset of the ride was to struggle against the harness, to dig my toes into the floor, to wedge my knees as close to the edge of the car as possible in order to be safe. And it hurt. Because I felt every swift turn all the more. It took me a few seconds to realize that the harness would hold, and that I ought to relax and trust in the harness’ ability to keep me from falling. And yet, isn’t that what we all we do when we trust in our own power to get things done? We struggle and hurt ourselves trying to do it all using only human abilities. In the face of overwhelming circumstances we forget to rely on God’s power and His strength and His grace to get us through. After all, He is the Lord over all the earth. And to those who trust in Him, He is our stronghold, our refuge and our rock. And all we need to do is be still and trust in God.
11 Who says: “Be still and confess that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.”
12 The LORD of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob. Selah