The Enigma of a Roller Coaster

Even as numbers add to our age and memories pile up in scrapbooks complied in our brains, it seems as if we never truly stop learning. I always tell people jokingly how I am in my third year of college and I still cry every time I leave home to head back to school. Although it is a humorous fact, it goes to show that although I have had a fair share of years to become accustomed to the ups and downs college seems to throw at you, the rollercoaster of life is an ever-changing ride that doesn’t have the same exact loops twice. You never quite know when a steep, stomach-wrenching drop is about to come, and it is sometimes difficult to recognize a sweet memory until it has passed like a drop of honey. Despite the uncertainty of what your ride will look like today, you can be certain that the engineer of the ride knows exactly what is in store, and better yet, only constructs the ride in a way that is best for you. We can try to build a ride that we think will be the most fun, the most successful, or the best ride around. However, we can only see the past, not the future. The future is full of unknowns and possibilities. The future is also full of goodness, sovereignty, peace, love, and grace. This year, the sovereign engineer of my life has been teaching me how to simply take the ticket of life that He has freely given me, rely on the seat belt of His protection and strength, and throw my hands in the air in surrender, awaiting the joys that He brings and surrendering the burdens and decisions of the ride.

The Down 

Roller-coasters always have hills that drop, steep and fast. These can come in all different sizes and forms, however they will always bring a sense of emotion. Although life walking with the Lord is full of joy, challenges and pain still come. The existence of pain does not fade, however we are no longer defined by the challenge that we are faced with. The difficulties of money, anxiety, uncertainty, relationships, depression, and grief may still arise in your life. This truth is something that I have had to learn to understand. God does not promise to always protect us from pain. However, we can be assured that any pain we feel is for our good.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Although pain and difficulties arise, they are no more than a temporary blemish that serves a greater purpose. My blemish has taught me how to lean on God and rely on His strength. It has led my heart to grow more tender, as I am able to appreciate and feel the joys of life as powerfully as the sun on my skin. They have taught me how to love others better and empathize with their own blemishes. Although challenges of all kinds are painful, they teach us and transform us into the children the Lord created us to be. So although the rain will come, I pray that you dance in the midst of it, hand in hand with the One who relentlessly pursues you through it.

The Up

The best part of a ride is the joy and excitement that comes with it. It is the joy that is shared between you and the loved one who is screaming right next to you. Although life is filled with many big moments that surge with happiness and nostalgia, the Lord also works in the smaller, daily moments. These are the moments that are monumental to you, but seemingly unseen by others. These are your anthill moments – unnoticeable to others, but everything to you. God constructs these anthill moments in beautiful ways that unfold in the most perfect timing. God knows your heart. He sees the internal struggles that weigh you down, and He understands the worries that swarm your head like a relentless tide. Not only has our good Father already won these battles and promises to carry us through them until we reach the finish line, but He engineers events that express His unfathomable love. The products of this are often anthill moments. Think of a time when you were burdened by a struggle, whether others were aware of it or not. Maybe it was an insecurity that kept nagging at you or a challenge that felt like boulders resting on your trembling shoulders. Now, think of a time when that struggle was followed by an event that brought joy or relief. It can be something someone said or a small act that they weren’t even aware of. These small moments that brought joy in the midst of the struggle are glimpses of the victory that we find in the Lord. To me, they are God whispering, “Baylee, I am here and working. Remember what is true about my love for you.” He knows the depths of our hearts – every interwoven detail that makes you, you. Enjoy these moments. Notice them, relish in them, and thank God for constantly working for your good. The Lord’s love for each of us is beyond human understanding. It is perfect and without blemish. He works in the big rollercoaster moments, but He is just as present in the everyday anthill moments.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:11

“You have searched me, Lordand you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” – Psalm 139:1-5

The Rider

No matter what the ride is like, the rider is the focus. The Lord’s love for His children is deep, relentless, unchanging, and as overwhelming as a hurricane. An end does not exist, nor does an action that could change it. We see this love in all of creation. In the sunrise and the vastness of the mountain ranges. In the laugh of a child and the vows of a married couple. However, these are just beautiful glimpses. His love for us is unfathomable, unthinkable. When we begin to think about all of the things He has created we can’t help but to think of it as beautiful. How could we not think the oceans and valleys of the world are beautiful? How could we not think the placement and architecture of the stars are perfect? What is contradicting, however, is that although we think of all of His creation as perfect, we often fail to see ourselves that way. We, too, are creations of God.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:14

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10

Not only are we a perfect work of the Lord, but we are His most treasured creation. Instead of thinking of all the things you don’t like about yourself, dwell on the truth that you are made by the Creator of the universe. The Creator who makes no mistakes – whose works are perfect. Take your worth out of the temporary and never complacent world, and place your value and identity in the Father and His love for you. Replace the negative thoughts with this truth…

You are completely known, unfathomably loved, eternally chosen, and relentlessly pursued. 

This ride is one that is filled with grief and joy. There are moments of immeasurable pain contradicting the times of overwhelming joy. However, those downs lead us to grow closer to the Lord and feel the joy of the ups deeper than ever before. We learn how to dance to the songs of the Lord’s promises through the temporary battles of this world. We may not have control over where this life takes us or the timing of the hills, but we do have assurance of the engineer. So, rider, take your ticket that the Lord is waiting to freely give you. Sit in the passenger seat and buckle up, being secured by His promise and relying on His strength. Then, surrender. Raise your hands in praise through the ups and downs. Enjoy the ride, relinquishing control to the One who can see the blueprint, and whose plans are far greater than our own.

 

 

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