Friday, October 21, 2011

Roller coaster ride

“…for I’ve learned how to be content in whatever circumstances I am in…” –Phil. 4:13

Sometimes the ride of life can seem less like a gentle carriage ride and more like a roller coaster. Up one minute and down the next, the roller coaster flies through the air. People scream as the coaster zooms down the track, out of control. Or is it out of control? Hum. It feels out of control, but it’s attached to a track and has an elaborate braking system. Our lives are out of control when we’re doing the driving, but when we’re submitting our ride to the Lord, we can trust that God is in control. Though the ride may seem crazy, twisting and reckless, we have faith that God has a bigger plan. It’s why we can encourage our kids to trust in the Lord.

I had a pretty crazy roller coaster ride this past week. I spent a good part of the week with my mom in Fort Worth doing projects around the house. Some of the projects were big ones and the travel was crazy. I returned home Friday in time to change clothes and attend visitation for my good friend Vince. He had passed away earlier in the week from a brain tumor. He was such a great dad, husband and friend. I was up early Saturday morning for an event at the church then hurried home to put on a tie for Vince’s memorial service. It was awesome. Then, that night, we went to a wedding of a long time friend from Branson. Crazy.

From my mom, to visitation, to church, to a memorial, to a wedding. The roller coaster goes up and down and up and down. We experience the ups and we experience the downs. Most of us are great during the up times and stressed during the downs.

In the early first century, a man named Paul rode a roller coaster too. In his second letter to the church in Corinth, in chapter 11, he described his roller coaster ride: “Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”

Wow! My coaster ride looks like the little kiddie roller coaster at Silver Dollar City compared to Paul’s journey. “Beaten, stoned and shipwrecked.” Yep, I’m not quite in Paul’s league. But I am in the league God has designed for me at this juncture of my life. It does no good for us to compare our coaster tracks- mine is specific to me and yours is specific to you. God knows our course but we determine whether we’re going to enjoy the ride or freak out.

We make the decision whether to lean on the Lord or try to take our own control. My own will responds with an anxious spirit that tries to maintain control. Faith responds with a trusting spirit and yields to a loving God.

When we give it over, we can be content, like Paul, in whatever the circumstance. Not happy. But content knowing God is in control. It calms our spirit and our family’s spirit too.

Enjoy that coaster ride and hold on tight. It’s an awesome ride!

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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