I can remember many, many, many moons ago when going to an amusement park and riding a roller coaster was “fun”. By fun, I mean pretending, while standing in line with your friends, that you were not afraid while somewhat thrilled deep down inside with what was about to take place.
I can remember the eagerness to try and get either in the front or back seats of the long, multi-car creature. I can remember getting in the seat and waiting for the bar to come down, that bar that you would cling to for life, as the ride began.
Then came the slow, clicking and movement as the cars began their slow ascent up the first hill to the top. Once at the top, heart beating rapidly, time seemed to stand still for a second. Suddenly the car would build up speed, people would start to scream, and the sweeping adrenaline rush filled my body with the excitement and pleasure of the thrill of the ride. Often the ride seemed to go on and on but then, suddenly, it seemed to end too quickly as the cars pulled into the stations for you to disembark and the next group was given their turn.
The last time I rode on a rollercoaster was some 10 years ago. All I can remember is how badly my joints hurt when the ride was over. Roller coasters are no longer on my “to do list” anymore.
Yet, now, as I journey on my spiritual pilgrimage. I find myself on roller coasters of emotion, spiritual struggles, and the events of life that put me on this ride, but not of my own choosing.
The feelings of riding these roller coasters are not those of excitement and thrill, but of pain, sorrow, suffering, sadness, depression, doubt, rejection, and regret. I seldom know when these roller coaster rides will begin and know even less as to when they might end. In fact, some of them never seem to end.
I still yell and scream, cry and lament the ride. I still grab on to the thin bar of faith as tightly as I can. Sometimes I just close my eyes and hope this valley, the downward plunge will be the last, but so far, it has not.
You cannot change the path of the roller coaster. But you can change the way you deal with the ride. You can remember that no matter how long or terrifying this ride seems, it will end. All things in this life end.
You can let go of the bar, hold your hands high in the air and give in to the reality that either the bar will hold you in place or not. If not, your ride will end. The ending may be tragic, but it will end. If the bar does hold you in, then you experience the confidence and assurance that your bar, your faith will do what it is supposed to do.
So let the valleys and the hills come. Let the speed and uncertainty of life come. Remember, you are not alone on this ride, not now or ever.
Every valley will be raised up, and every mountain and hill will be flattened. Uneven ground will become level, and rough terrain a valley plain. (Isa. 40:4 CEB)
Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be leveled. The crooked will be made straight and the rough places made smooth. (Lk. 3:5 CEB)