I LOVE roller coasters! That thought hit me as I was about to mount the Montu for the third time this week while visiting Busch Gardens, Florida. It is rated one of the top 10 rollercoasters in the United States. It is truly a thrill ride. As I looked at the warning poster, a conversation I had with my cardiologist 15 years ago came to mind.
A year had passed since I was diagnosed with a cardiac blockage. It was a scary time. I had been rushed to Yale New Haven Hospital to have a stent put in. For the first time in my life I had come face to face with my own mortality. To be honest, it sent me into a bout of depression. I had no idea what the future would hold for me.
Then a strange thing happened. We began planning a youth group outing to Six Flags. Mindful of those warning posters, and wanting to know my restrictions, I made it a point to speak with my doctor. I wanted to know what I could and couldn't do at the park. So I asked him point blank if I could ride the roller coasters and his answer surprised me.
He said, "Are you kidding?" I began to look down in disappointment as he continued, "I don't know why you would want to, but if you feel you need to, then go ahead. Just stop if you have any feelings of light-headedness or dizziness." He went on to explain why the motion could cause drops in blood pressure and cause problems. He didn't think I'd have to worry about it at that point.
I've been riding roller coasters ever since. Of course, I have become more selective as I've gotten older. I can't do the Superman at Six Flags. They only provide a lap bar to keep you in your seat. I've got to be securely strapped in. I don't like taking too many chances. Roller coasters are only fun if you feel 100 percent safe.
Maybe that's why very few of us enjoy life when it begins to feel like a roller coaster. When things are going up and down and we are in over our heads, we suddenly want to stop and get off. We may enjoy living on the edge, experiencing new things, but only when we are in control. Unfortunately, control is only an illusion when it comes to life. No one is really in control.
Well, no one but God. The truth is that He is the one who holds the world in the palm of his hand. He is the one who set the stars in place and created the heavens and the earth. God parted the Red Sea to let Moses cross and held the sun in place while Joshua fought the Amorites. This God we worship is mighty and he can do all things.
The good news is that when our life begins to spin out of control we can call on him. He promised that he would be with us. He will be there to answer our call. He will speak the words, “Peace be still!” and halt the raging torrents of life from overwhelming us. So buckle up. Get ready to ride. But go with God and you will never have to be afraid.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.