When I was a child, our family made yearly summer visits to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. I loved all of the smaller rides, but I found the “fun” houses were not fun at all. One in particular, the San Francisco Earthquake, was especially frightening. Our family would climb into the little open car, ride into the dark, and encounter all kinds of simulated trouble- buildings falling all around us, fires breaking out, chaos erupting everywhere. I was quite scared, even with my dad at my side!
One year I discovered a helpful trick when our family, keeping with tradition, rode the Earthquake ride again. Once it was over, Dad asked me if I liked it this time. I exclaimed, “It was great! I just kept my eyes shut the whole time!” Dad chuckled, finding it funny that I would be willing to ride the Earthquake by shutting out the actual experience.
In recent weeks, I’ve been thinking that life can be much like an amusement park. Some days are like those pleasant and scenic ferryboat rides, some days are the challenging but thrilling roller coaster rides, and some days are the dark and frightening fun house rides. But we do not wait in line or buy tickets for these days, getting to choose whether we want to be calmed, thrilled, or frightened. At one moment we can be floating along serenely in peace and beauty, and at another we can be scared out of our wits as our world crumbles before us.
Life gives us surprises. God gives us certainties. Whatever surprises the day may bring, we can find a sure and calming center in the securities of God.
When our world is chaotic and crumbling, we can close our eyes. We can stop looking around and begin looking within. God is there within us, offering peace and serenity from the world around us. We turn our focus from our fears and look to our shield, our ever-present God of love.
When our days are roller coaster rides of fast-paced thrills and unexpected twists and turns, we can fasten our safety belts and hang on! We can cling to God for our security and stability when things feel out of control. We can put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17), and trust in God’s provision and presence.
When our world is a boat ride of idyllic scenes and smooth waters, we can sit back and enjoy the view. We can rest in God with gratitude and peace in our souls. We can allow God to tend our spirits so we are ready for the next ride!
This life can seem like an amusement park journey with its surprises along the way. But whether our world is crumbling, or spinning, or peaceful, the certainties of God will help us to make the best of every new adventure.
God Has Not Promised (Hymn)
God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God has not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
God has not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
God has not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.
But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
God Hath Not Promised lyrics by Annie Johnson Flint, updated by Karen
http://creeva.com/2012/cedar-point-memories-part-16-is-the-ground-shaking-earthquake/ (Scanned postcard found on Flickr)