Today, we spent our afternoon at Hershey Park in Hershey, PA. My eight-year-old son had a goal to ride as many roller coasters as possible in the few hours we would spend at the park. Our first ride was on my all-time favorite coaster, The Comet. I sat down next to my youngest son and gleefully rode this old wooden coaster. As we crested the first hill, I closed my eyes and let that euphoric feeling tingle my toes as we descended. My stomach rose and fell, my heart rate increased, and I giggled. I had no control of the route ahead. I had very little control of my body's reaction to this wild ride. But I did realize that I had some control of my emotional reaction to the ride, which influenced my physical reaction after it was over. I could become tense and fretful, and possibly make myself sick, or I could relax, let my body naturally react and try to enjoy the feeling of being swept along by the ride. And that is just what I did. I enjoyed the ride!
Coming off The Comet, I wondered, "Is this how I treat my life?" Do I tense up waiting for the next bend in the road? Do I try to straighten out the hills when God is trying to give me a thrill to make me giggle?
In Proverbs16:9 it says, "A man's heart plan his way, But the Lord directs the steps." And later, in Proverbs 19:21, "There are many plans in a man's heart, Nevertheless the Lord's counsel--that will stand."
When I don't enjoy the ride, what am I missing? How many giggles and thrills do I chase away as I tense up and try to straighten the track? Am I trying to plan the track of my roller-coaster-life when God is the ultimate engineer?
There's an older movie called "Parenthood" that I used to like to watch. During one scene, a married couple has learned that they are pregnant late in their marriage. Most of their children are grown and they are looking forward to some quiet time when they learn of the upcoming birth of a new baby. They are arguing becaue both the husband and wife are frustrated by this disruption to their plans that the baby represents. The man's elderly grandmother overhear's some of the arguing and enters the room.
As the grandmother enters she begins talking about how she loved to go to amusement parks with her friends when she was young. She loved the roller coaster and how it went up and down and twisted and turned making her stomach turn and her head swim. But it was still such a thrill! Other friends liked the merry-go-round or carousel, but not her, she liked the roller coaster. In her words, the merry-go-round, "just went around." It wasn't nearly the thrill of a roller coaster.
It wasn't too long ago that I had to hear the words, "It just goes around!" That was when my sons got too old for the kiddie rides. They wanted more of a thrill than they could give. Today, at the park, we passed by all of the "kiddie" rides. Where in years past we spent almost all of our time, we walked past and I watched other young families taking our place. At once, the roller coaster of my life went up and down. My stomach fluttered a little as I realized how quickly those years waving to two smiling brown-eyed boys passed. And then, just as quickly, the roller coaster tilts upward as my son grabs my hand to take me to another coaster. I no longer have to watch on the side of the ride, but can now ride right alongside both of my sons. We're heading toward the crest of the next hill, together.
Help me to allow You to control my life. I don't want to mis the thrills! I want to go where You lead. I want You to plan my steps. Thank you for this life you've made for me. Thank you for the Roller Coasters. I love you, so!