Help Me Get Off This Roller Coaster!

by | May 22, 2005 | Peace, Worry

I used to LOVE roller coasters! The wilder the ride, the more I enjoyed it! Of course, this was way back in ancient times, when dinosaurs roamed the planet (Yes, I’m THAT old! If you don’t believe it, ask my students!). Strange how things change. Simply lifting a cup now is enough to make me nauseous!

When I was 16, my parents took me to the United States for the first time. My dad, being a country western addict, made Nashville one of his stops, and one of our Nashville afternoons found us at Opry Land. This is where I discovered what I, for years to come, would call the “King of the rides”. I rode it over and over again. After all, anything was better than joining my parents at a catatonic country western concert! (Please don’t misunderstand me; I do like “real” country western!)

The ride was simple enough: You entered a huge, circular room and were told to stand up against the wall. There were no restraints provided, just the way I liked it. Then the room would start to spin, and the speed would increase until you found yourself, through the force of gravity, “glued” to the wall. Once you were “trapped”, the floor would move out from under you, leaving you swirling around at amazing speeds, stuck to the wall with nothing under your feet.

Quite naturally, I wanted to share this wonderful ride with someone, and since the only people I knew in the park were my parents, my poor dad became my victim: “Come on, Papa! You’ll love it, you’ll see! It’s unbelievable!”

He was very hesitant at first, but probably because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings, he agreed. As soon as the ride started however, his face turned white. As the speed increased, his entire body became so glued to the wall that I couldn’t understand his cry for help: “Get me off this roller coaster!”

I, on the other hand, was ecstatic. I was having the time of my life, AND I was sharing it with my dad. In fact, I didn’t realize there was a problem until the ride was over. Only as I watched my dad crumble to the floor did I realize that sharing my fun had caused him a great deal of stress! As I helped him up, it became apparent that I would need to be his human walking cane for … the next hour, at least! Suddenly I wished I hadn’t invited him into this nightmare!

Isn’t life often as frantic as wild rides and roller coaster? People run back and forth without stopping; they have work deadlines, chores to perform, kids to taxi around, repairs to be taken care off, illness to be dealt with, finances to address… This kind of a hectic life can leave you feeling as dizzy as that ride at Opry Land! If you aren’t careful, you will soon feel like you are stuck in the rut of those walls as the floor drops away from your feet! Since everyone seems to be in the same boat, there is no one to hear your cry of help: “Is there anyone who can get me out of this nightmare?”

As this life spins faster and faster, dizziness becomes your constant companion. So do headaches and airsickness bags! You cry out, “Will it ever stop?”

The pessimists say, “Get used to it!” The optimists say “The ride will eventually stop!” But if asked when, even they will have to admit that the end doesn’t come until you’re six feet under. Not too encouraging, is it?

And to make matters worse, just when you think you can’t possibly go on, the ride starts spinning faster. You don’t believe it? Here’s some statistics: Did you know that 86 percent of Americans claim to be chronically stressed out? According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly one million people a year lose their lives to diseases caused by unmanaged stress. “Let me out of here! Help”

I have discovered that according to statistics, I should be almost 85 years old (I am not that far from that age, but I am also not that close! I am barely 47 years old-or is it 57?)

Where did this statistical age come from? According to U.S. News & World Report, men change jobs every 7.6 years. I was 24 years old when I graduated, and since then, I’ve changed jobs eight different times. Add it all up, and I should be 84.8 years old!

What about how many times I’ve moved? Atlantic Monthly reports that the average American will occupy 12 to 13 residences in a life time. I have lived in 15 different places. Hum. When you put it all together, I AM about ready to croak!

Wow! Even the statistics are stressful! Where have I lost all those years that these statistics say I should have lived? Is it possible I have Alzheimer’s?

When I read the gospels, I noticed that Jesus’ life could have been very stressful as well. There were healings to be done (strangely enough, people easily become sick!), demon-possessed individuals to be freed, addictions to be broken, the afflicted to be encouraged, the Good News to be preached…

Still, Jesus always had time for anyone!

“He must have had excellent time management strategies!”

You are absolutely right! His time management strategies were out of this world! Literally! He was driven by God’s Spirit and depended on God for all things!

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19-20 NIV)

These same time management strategies are available to us as well: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV). Only when we abide IN HIM will we truly experience inner peace and real rest. After all, Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28 NIV) Only then will we be able to say confidently: “Increase the speed of the ride if you want to. Nothing will disturb my inner peace! I have God at my side!”

Notice that those who do not know the Lord cannot experience that true rest: “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” (Matt 12:43-45 NIV)

The devil searches for rest as well; but his kind of rest is to torment God’s creatures. His rest causes unrest in people’s lives. His rest causes troubled, restless and stressed-filled existences. Only by letting Jesus into your life will you experience true rest: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:26-27 NIV); and “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” (Col 3:15 NIV)

You now have a choice to make: Enjoy the ride and experience God’s peace in your life, or let the ride nauseate you as life spins you faster and faster with no end in sight!

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6 NIV)

What will be your choice?

Rob Chaffart


Help Me Get Off This Roller Coaster!