When people ask me if I like Orange County (where i grew up), I usually say something that gives credit to the beach and calls attention to the superficiality, but finally gives praise to Disneyland. I grew up 5-10 (depending on heavy traffic) minutes away from the happiest place on earth. Sometimes, my sister and I would go after school, go on one ride, and do our "disney skip" arm in arm around the park. Constantly on the verge of motion sickness and with cotton candy all over our faces, we familiarly rejoiced in the spectacles and the joy-rides.
I think all of us know that joy-rides and roller-coasters are supposed to be fun! They are supposed to make our hearts flutter with excitement, as we get to literally 'sit-back' and be led through highs and lows, all while smiling and trusting that we won't fall out of the grips of the coaster car. Unlike skiing and rock-climbing, this thrill is completely separate from our ability. Our reaction, our grip, and our muscles do nothing to increase or decrease its pleasure.
And here comes the argument: life is like the roller-coaster track and God is the car that holds us.
It seems like almost all of my friends are going through change (I guess we always are), but for some reason, instead of 'going with the flow' of life, all of us are anxiously awaiting what's next. We are all being led by God on this beautiful journey, but also trying to analyze, guess, and resist all the things He has decided best for us.
Its similar to if we are all chugging up the track of the roller-coaster. We have no clue if- when we reach the top- we will turn or fall or be thrown into a giant loop. In life, many times, I find myself trying to look over the people's heads in front of me. I find myself paralyzed by my desire to know 'What's Next'. Unlike in a roller-coaster, there is usually NO way for us to know exactly what ahead of us looks like, but LIKE in a roller coaster, our hands get clammy, we break a nervous sweat and hold on to anything we can reach.
I remember in 5th grade, I went to Disneyland's California Adventure with my best friend and her mom. We boarded "California Screamin'" with full excitement, but right before the coaster started with a jolt that pushes your cheeks back against your seat, my friend's mom started screaming. She yelled to get out, get off, get away. She didn't want the joy-ride anymore. She had fear and hesitation- making the entire rest of the ride an unwilled torture chamber instead of the joy-ride it was meant to be.
She was anxious to be out of control, just like we are in life. So many times, I catch myself ANXIOUS. I catch myself wondering if ANYTHING or ANYONE is holding me- if anything is going to keep me from falling. I see the highs and lows of my life and decide that it is now my job to control the path- 'there will be no lows.'
Like Life, a roller-coaster track has highs and lows. There are turns and twists and those drops (my dad calls them "G's") in our stomachs that come with big events. BUT a roller-coaster can always be fun, as long as we trust that we are held by something trustworthy.
If God is the holder of our lives, the number of jolts that come with the ride do not keep us from trusting and enjoying. We can honestly have no anxiety, just knowing that God is in control and that that is all that matters.
If a person got onto a roller-coaster and...
first doubted that the coaster would keep them from falling...
and then decided that THEY were going to control the route of the coaster- that the coaster couldn't go down too far- (they wouldn't let it),
We would think they were being ridiculous. No matter how determined one is to change the route and highs and lows of the coaster, they would not be able to change it. All of their determination would be a waste.
Is this true for life too? What good does our control-freak habits do us? Even if we go to school and get our masters and do everything "right" to get that perfect job, something completely unexpected could arise and throw our entire plan into a scramble. Even if we marry the perfect person, an accident could happen or worse. We think we are in control in every way, but we're not. We don't get to form the roller-coaster track in so many ways; we merely get to ride.
Why are we trading this joy-ride in for an anxiety-filled control quest? Why do we insist on trying to look around and over our surroundings (our 'present') so that we can see whats ahead?
Obviously there are some things that God allows us to prepare for, but for the most part, I see the idea of trying to know the future and control it exhausting and unnecessary.
In my life, I am trying so hard to actually learn this. I know it (I'm writing it right now, after all), but I have a hard time believing it. God has given me so many foresights. He has told me certain things that will come next, but instead of sitting back and enjoying the ride, I panic. I wonder what else I could do or say. Worst of all, I turn the joy-ride into a quest for answers. My prayers have become an interrogation of the mighty God, where I put Him in the hot seat and ask Him how, why, who, what, and where. Through this, God has made clear to me how great my mistrust is, and how many unsurrendered desires I still have.
When God told Abraham and Sarah that they would have a child, we all wonder why they didn't "just believe Him." Every time I read that story, I want to shake them. I want to tell them that they are so blessed- that they get to simply enjoy the ride that God has provided for them...yet they take it into their own hands and deviate from God's plan. I crack myself up with how quickly I am disappointed by them, when I do the exact same thing: I desire the control.
Lately in prayer life, my requests have shifted. When my friends ask me about what I would like prayers for, I now say "to surrender it all to God." I know for a fact that my biggest desire -even a month ago- was for the answers (which I then had no idea what to do with).
I want to be the girl that sits back on the roller-coaster and puts her arms up, screaming with joy through the highs and the lows. I want to rejoice in the variance of life and know that the path is better than the one I could have created. More than that, I want to KNOW with all of my heart, soul, and noggin that the only thing that matters is that I am safe in God's arms.
For God never said that we had to have it figured out. NOT ONCE! But He DID say not to be anxious about it.
Philippians 4:6-7--- Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:34---- Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I want to pray that He would help me praise Him for the ride, regardless of my understanding of it.