Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Safe, even when you're on a roller coaster

There was a conference this weekend at church and we talked about pictures that represent our relationship with God.

I didn't want to overthink it, and since I'm more wordy than image-y anyway, I figured I couldn't go wrong.

Irony was screaming at me when I chose a picture of people on a roller coaster. Weird because I can't imagine going on a roller coaster if regular life still brings me pain.

I grew up in Ohio, where amusement parks rule. My cousins and I would go to Kings Island when I was little. I went to my first concert at the park -- Amy Grant. I ate ice cream of the future when it was new and cool. They had fun rides like Top Fun, Forward and Backward Racers, and The Beastie, which never got old even when we did. I didn't like the out of control coasters, the ones that flipped you upside down.

I didn't take many risks with roller coasters. Regretfully, I wasn't a hands-up kind of girl.

There's an old story that floats around with my brother where he was trying to figure out whether to go on one of the bigger, scarier rides when he was little and right before they lowered the bar down on him, he asked the probably 13-year-old worker, "is this ride safe?" The guy answered "No!" and slammed the bar down.

I'm shocked by that story because if someone told me a ride wasn't safe, even if he was an adolescent who didn't really know, I might believe him. And I'm sorry to say, I might get off.

I know the Christian life calls me to more. It calls me to stay on the ride even when I don't know what is going to happen. I'm scared sometimes that the dreadfully honest answer from God, even if it comes with more compassion than a young teenage boy is no, the road ahead is not exactly safe.

But you are safe in Me. Even when everything else fails.

I know there is a difference.

God is not a teenage boy mocking us by strapping us in to 'safety' only to send us down a roller coaster intended to bring us harm.

This is a hard concept for me to wrap myself around. I know my life is not my own, I know I am not in control, but like my gut-reaction when I'm on a coaster, I do my best to hold on so tightly. I wonder how to trust in the midst of what feels like unsafe places.

The truth is God is still working even when we question and even when we scramble for our own safety, but He asks us to remember and live out the truth that we have been made alive in Christ. My life is hidden with Him. This is my true safety.

We don't have to find meaning everywhere but from this simple picture activity, I later realized God has been doing something with this idea of safety for a long time.

I've talked about it on here before, but a book I love, love is Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman. I go back to it yearly and sometimes only read the sections on safety. Big surprise.

Safe, even when it hurts
Safe, even in failure
Safe, even when it all goes wrong
Safe, even when you don't feel safe

So, this started out as a 'letter to the stuck' but quickly turned into a story about safety. I think they are linked. When am I stuck? When I hurt -- when I think I am unsafe. When I fail -- when I think I am unsafe. When all goes wrong -- when I think I am unsafe. When I don't feel safe -- when I think I am unsafe.

The truth brings freedom from stuck places.

May you know that no matter if you feel alone or with a hundred other people waiting on the top of a ride.

linking with ruth for letters to and jen for sdg


  1. I love this. I am a hold on tight kind of girl, if I get on the roller coaster at all. I know God wants more of me. Thanks for such a sweet reminder. (Also, I need to read that book it sounds great.)

    1. I'm glad to hear from you, Lisa....I know the feeling, it's good to know we can encourage each other :).

  2. Loved this, can utterly relate! Really interested in reading the book you mentioned too, I've heard of it but never gotten around to picking it up. Will add it to the reading list!

    1. Thanks, friend. Yes, it's a good one. Love your link-ups, Ruth.

  3. I've not read many blogs recently and my own has been neglected for weeks but I'm glad I found and read your words today.
    I've been stuck for a while - eyes tightly shut - not liking where this roller coaster is taking me one bit - holding on so tightly. But I know I have to loosen my grip and let go... and maybe I even have to write again...
    thanks x

    1. So glad we've connected more already, but thank you for coming by and sharing here! Praying that you feel God's comfort this day. It makes my heart happy to think about you writing again, when you are ready :).

  4. Hi Julie. I'm visiting over from Ruth's place. Here's another soul interested in the book you've mentioned. Bet you didn't realise the avid readers who would be stirred by the words you shared! They speak to us so much because feeling stuck and longing to be safe is an all too familiar human condition.
    Blessed by your post and love the way it meandered yet stayed faithful to the concepts being explored. Lovely to meet you! Thank you :) x

  5. Hi Joy, I'm stirred by other people's blogs so much so it's great when people are blessed by coming by here..I'm thankful for that!
    And, yes, Emily's book has encouraged me a lot in getting out of stuck places. Glad to introduce more people to it. :)