Dear South East District Friends,
Recently I celebrated a “milestone” birthday and chose to spend it riding roller coasters with my teenager and friends at Busch Gardens in Tampa. It seemed fitting to do something very “young” as I was beginning a new decade of life.
Roller coasters are fascinating. I am somewhat surprised that I enjoy them as much as I do. They seem unnecessarily dangerous and typically I stay away from danger. They cause me to scream and I normally try not to scream. They make my heart pound and my stomach turn and, of course, I try to steer clear of things that make me feel that way. What is it about roller coasters that I enjoy?
I have no idea.
However, I ride them and go back over and over again, feeling happy and renewed and windblown after each one.
Being a preacher, I can’t resist the symbolism in all of this. Though many people do not choose to ride roller coasters, we all know that life is full of them. Typically, we do not choose them. We simply find ourselves riding along one day (coasting, shall we say?) and all of a sudden the coasting becomes a large mountain to climb or a very swift fall to endure. Then there is a twist and a turn and a scream and the need to grab the hand of the person sitting next to you.
Does this sound familiar? Have you ridden a roller coaster in your life lately?
It won’t be hard for you to understand that I prefer real roller coasters to those in my everyday life. The real roller coasters come to a quick end! The ones in life often go on and on, seeming interminable, and we never know if another mountain is upon us or if this particular ride (challenge, obstacle, dilemma) is about to end.
This is where our faith in Jesus is such a gift to you and to me. What helps us with our pounding heart and turning stomach and anxiety when we encounter life’s roller coasters? It is our faith in a Lord who knows us, knows our struggles and seeks to live in and through us as we encounter the challenges of this life. Every one of life’s obstacles does not leave us feeling “refreshed” the way I do when the roller coaster ride is over. That is the plain truth. They often leave us feeling beaten and worn down. However, I trust in a Savior, as you do, who came to live among creation in order to know our lives, experience our pain and joy, offer a new way to live and ultimately give us the gift of peace, hope and joy that can only come from our risen Lord.
Friends, if you find yourself on one of life’s roller coasters right now, reach out to someone near you and grab their hand tight! They will hear your scream and help to ease your pounding heart. Allow them to journey with you as a friend in faith, to remind you of the love of Jesus and the hope of our God during trying times.
Peace to each of you as we journey together,
Cynthia D. Weems