I still remember my first roller coaster ride. It was the “Big Dipper” on the boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California. A huge, wooden roller coaster! My dad and I went together – I was usually up for anything daring that my dad was going to do. Even though it scared me a little I loved my first roller coaster ride!
I’ve loved roller coasters ever since. I like the loop-d-loop ones and keep my eyes open the whole time. I love the ones with huge drops and the faster the better!
Usually though, the roller coaster stops after a few minutes and I get off and decide whether I’m going to ride it again. The roller coaster, called “Chronic Illness”, I’ve been on the past 8.5 years seems to have forgotten to stop and let me off. It just keeps going and going…
Sometimes I find myself screaming “STOP! I WANT TO GET OFF!”
Sometimes I give up and sit back and just try to ride it out.
Sometimes I find I can enjoy the ride even with it’s dips and curves.
Other times, though, I try to pretend I’m not even on it. I watch an “escape” movie on Netflix, or plink around on the internet doing nothing important, anything to keep my mind off the scary ride. But then I go through one of those loop-d-loops and there’s no ignoring it!
Right now, my roller coaster is climbing the hill… that time where you can relax a bit – and yet, if you’re not sitting in the front, it’s hard to know when you’ve hit the peak and will suddenly be catapulted forward and downward!
As the roller coaster slowly grinds it’s way up the hill, I wonder what I’m in for. But you know, just like on my favorite roller coasters, I have a secure brace that holds me safely in my seat no matter what comes. As I roll over the top and dropppppppppp down the other side, I know I will suddenly feel the security of that seat brace holding me in.
God is my seat brace. I know he’s there while I’m enjoying the peace of the upward climb, but I especially feel the strength of his arms around me as I fall and twist and go through the loop-d-loops.
“Even when I walk
through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
~Psalm 23:4 (NLT)
Sometimes, I’ve had a hard time understanding how a rod and staff can be a comfort to me. But when I begin to think about being on a roller coaster, it all becomes clear. The rod and staff are my seat belt – or that big padded brace that holds me in my seat! When I hit those long drops, I am so very comforted by God’s tight hold on me. I think that is exactly what the Psalmist is talking about here.
Now I know some of you reading this can’t relate to enjoying roller coasters. But I know – whether you are a mom of young children, or chronically ill like me, or single wanting to be married, or infertile and wanting children, in a difficult marriage or in the midst of a divorce, or any one of the many seasons of life humans face- you can relate to roller coaster days/weeks/months/years.
Isn’t it a comfort to know that God is the one who holds you tightly in your seat – even if you have to go upside down?