My sister was always more adventurous than me. For instance, every year, when we were very young, the fair came to town, and we’d ride the kiddie-friendly rides. She loved to ride the “horsies” on the carousel; I was terrified of them and I’m two and a half years older than her. Among the horses on the carousel were benches for parents to use while their children undulated with glee on the carved equestrians. I chose to park myself on one of those benches and ride round and round in easy circles. I never really ever became comfortable with wild rides of any kind. But my level of desired safety is not the point of amusement park rides; excitement is.
One person’s excitement is another person’s terror! I remember in high school that my peers would look forward to going to Six Flags or King’s Island to ride the latest, wildest, craziest roller coaster or other types of thrill. The higher, the faster, the more chaotic the movement the better. But not so for me. Nevertheless, I was cajoled into riding one ride that was supposed to be like flying a jet. Two people climbed into a little cockpit with toggle controls located between them. The planes were lifted about 80 or 90 feet into the air and then the entire rig began to twirl with increasing speed. That was bad enough, but for added thrills, there was one more feature and it was controlled by the riders. The toggle control allowed riders to roll the plane 360 degrees. This meant that it was possible to ride this contrivance fit for enhanced interrogation upside down! This was agreeable to my ride partner who took control of the toggle and made that happen.
I don’t remember much, but there was yelling, and wrestling, and when it was all done, I was in uncontested control of the toggle, and the plane was flying right side up! I had a death grip on that toggle until the ride ended and we were stepping out onto terra firma! I refused to ride anything else with the person who’d scared at least a decade off from my life.
While not everyone will have trouble riding terrifying rides, most everyone wants to be in control and have things just as they prefer. When a person is confronted with the need to be forgiven for sin and made new in Christ many reject the offer because they don’t want to cede control into God’s hands. And even those who are born anew in Christ struggle at different points in their journey with the desire to be in control, to stay comfortable.
I’m not one who easily steps away from my comfort zone. However, God is a lot more adventurous than I am and when I became a Christian, I surrendered control of my life to Him. God called me to preach the good news of Jesus Christ and I wrestled hard against doing that very thing. But God is much more patient than I am, and His persistence eventually helped me overcome my many reasons for reluctance. Still, I wonder how many joys and blessings I may have missed because of seasons when I tried to take control away from God in preference for something I deemed easier, safer and calmer.
Many want God to grant them access to heaven, but do not want God to have access to control the course of the whole of their lives. We’d rather sit on the bench spinning in slow circles that go nowhere than riding the wild ponies of grace into the wild frontier of adventure with God. We often fail to remember that what we think is safe is often the very thing God needs to save us from. Too many times our creaturely comforts make us numb, blind, and deaf to what God wants to do. However, the only way to have an abundant life in Christ is to leave control in God’s hands. Perhaps it will help to remember that no matter how wild the ride becomes when God is in control, we are still secure in His arms! And if things seem to be whirling out of control to us, we can cling even more firmly to Jesus! As C. S. Lewis noted in The Chronicles of Narnia, “God is not safe, but He is good.” God’s plans for us may not feel comfortable or safe, but every one of them has been purposed by Him for our good and we can count on that!
Contact Pastor Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org.