This is an adapted excerpt from A Chance of Awesome: How Changing the Way You See Changes Everything, which is currently available as a free download. I made a few tweaks here, and although it can feel weird to think about enjoying much of anything right now, this is a reminder I know I need to hear more than ever. I hope it encourages you.
I think it’s safe to say that most of us are regularly experiencing a roller coaster of emotions on a daily basis as we make our way through this crisis. It probably feels like there are more “downs” than “ups,” as my son Ben would describe them. In fact, maybe you don’t see any ups at all, only a runaway train hurtling at breakneck speed off a cliff.
And that’s the question, isn’t it? Is this a roller coaster or a runaway train?
Both are experiences that will cause us to scream like that thief in Home Alone who had the tarantula walk on his face. But the outcomes are completely different.
What I try to do –– especially right now –– is own the metaphor of the roller coaster. When you get on a roller coaster, you know that you are safe. The ride has been carefully designed and the passengers return unscathed. Although the giant drops and corkscrews elicit bloodcurdling screams, you know that you are not in any real danger, and that knowledge is what makes the ride so thrilling and enjoyable. The terror becomes fun—a stress release of sorts—and you can fully give yourself over to the experience.
That’s how I am choosing to look at this moment. Instead of fearing the worst and losing faith every time I encounter a bit of bad news, I believe in my deepest being that things will work out in the end, even if I can’t imagine how. That knowledge allows me to shift the way I look at things. I am trying to give myself over to the thrill of the ride, feeling the rush at the core of my soul, fully expecting that my car will end up safely back at the station. I can watch and appreciate what God is doing in my life – what He’s doing in our world – rather than fear that I have been completely abandoned.
That’s how I think God designed life to be: a thrill ride. A series of exciting ups and downs and unforeseen twists that’s over too quickly. One that finds us rolling into the station called Heaven at the end of our ride, excitedly saying, “That was AWESOME! I wanna do it again!”
There have been many moments in my life that felt l was on a runaway train racing toward certain doom. And yet, so far, disaster is always avoided. The car rights itself; the path levels out; God provides.
It’s not that bad things never happen, but that they somehow give way to something good.
I suppose it is natural to want to go through life via the smooth road. No bumps or dips, no sharp turns or precipitous drops. We crave comfort. And yet how boring would that be?
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), life doesn’t work that way. There are ups and downs and moments fraught with terror.
Don’t get me wrong, I am SOOOO looking forward with great anticipation to a boring afternoon watching the Cubs play their next baseball game. But for now, it basically comes down to this: Do I believe that I am on a runaway train hurtling toward a broken bridge, or am I on a roller coaster at the greatest theme park in existence?
Yes, it is a choice. And believe me, one that has to be made daily, especially in times like these.
I choose the roller coaster.