(A Sequel to “Grace Abounds at the Water Park”)
On Saturday, I took the kids to Lake Winnie, self-described as “The South’s Favorite Family Amusement Park!” (Their exclamation mark, not mine.) We went with several church friends and approximately one million strangers. I have to admit, amusement parks are not my first choice in entertainment. It’s hot. There are long lines. People are everywhere. And then there are the rides…
I used to love rides when I was growing up. I’m spinning so fast I have to squeeze my eyes shut? Super! I’m staring at the ground, looming a mile away? Great! I’m strapped to a creaky contraption and climbing a steel mountain until I’ll reach the top then I’ll drop quickly down a shaky slope all the while curving and swerving, upside down and screaming? Let’s get in line again! The Wabash Cannonball is awesome!
Now that I’m older and can get dizzy if I stand up too fast, I just can’t take the rides. The other problem is that I know too much. Being an adult, I’m over-exposed to news stories. In the summertime, you can’t turn on your television, radio, or computer without eventually hearing a story about a woman falling off the top seat of a Ferris wheel or a lap bar not working properly on a roller coaster. Then there’s those teen park employees. Yikes. Have they been adequately screened? Can I see some credentials first? Why did he jiggle everyone else’s harness but not mine?
I even included them in the Bingo card I’ve been working on for my next, inevitable trip to another amusement park. It looks a little something like this:
Other than the dizziness and the barfing and the heat stroke, the other tricky part about riding rides is trying to board them with an odd number of people—like seven, for instance. At one point on Saturday, we decided to ride the ski lift. Everyone paired off, leaving me to ride alone. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was a little nervous. How can this be? It’s not even a real ride. If we were skiing the slopes, it would be a mode of transportation. I made sure I was in the exact center of the bucket. I sat back, never leaning forward as I rose up and over the man-made lake full of paddleboats below. As I rounded the end of the line and headed back to the ski lift dock, I began to relax. The ski lift had earned my trust. I hadn’t dropped to the depths below; even my purse remained with me.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with trusting something that’s bigger than myself and out of my grasp to control. That’s how the ride started off for me. No steering wheel. No brakes. I couldn’t stop the ride or make it go slower or faster. No control. Then it dawned on me: I’ve got to keep putting myself out there if I want to rely on God more and strengthen my trust in Him. It’s hard but it’s the only way to really know where I place my trust. If I always stay on the ground in the safe bubble of my comfort zone, I might as well be telling God He isn’t big enough or strong enough to carry me across whatever obstacle seems to be looming before me today. When He calls me to board the next roller coaster and I can’t see where it’s going and how many times I’ll be hanging upside down, I hope I’ll answer Him, “Yes, I’ll go, but only if You’ll go with me.”