There I was, standing at what could be considered the best amusement park in the world, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. I was shaking in fear. I was perfectly content sticking with the merry-go-round and tilt-a-whirl, but something taller, faster and scarier was beckoning.
I was 12 and I had never been on a roller coaster. My friend Lauren, who was a roller coaster fanatic, pulled my arm, begging me to take a leap of faith with her. After a heap of coaxing, I joined her on the Raptor, my legs dangling off the bright green coaster, my mouth wide open as I bellowed at every loop-the-loop.
Ever since that first coaster ride, I have had little or no fear when getting on a roller coaster. It was that initial leap of faith that took the greatest courage, and it is that same audacity that is required to go beyond the norm in this journey of faith.
One of the saddest parts of adulthood is that so many of us choose to stay on the kiddie rides of life. We settle for the comfortable, for that which won’t make our stomachs flip-flop, for that which won’t possibly cost us our lives. We hop on the non-thrilling rides for most of our fleeting lives, and have nothing to talk about afterwards. Our hearts don’t pound and our palms don’t sweat, because we’re simply moving around in small, predictable circles instead of soaring, unaware of what loops, twists and turns could be next.
A few months ago, I decided I was tired of riding the comfortable carousel I was on. I was surrounded by church friends who made me feel good about myself and working a job that was fun but far from challenging. I prayed, God, is it time for me to leave this comfortable nest? Sometimes God gives us very clear answers about our futures, and sometimes I believe He trusts us enough to make the right decisions with the brains He’s given us. In my case, He let me choose: would I stay where I was comfortable, or would I branch out?
In my case, my roller coaster involved moving to Houston for a new job without even knowing where I would be living. So there I was, just a couple weeks before Christmas, on a U-Haul filled with all my belongings, my cat and two of my best friends who came to help. I was headed to Houston with no clue whether I would be sleeping in a bed or in a roach motel that night.
My time so far in Houston has taught me that, while God sometimes asks us to step out on an unpredictable adventure, He will always protect us and take care of us. He doesn’t force you to get on the roller coaster. You choose to go. And He always gives you a lap belt and He won’t let you fall out. When we decide that we don’t want to stay on the kiddie rides, I think God smiles. He takes pleasure when we step out, trusting Him enough to do something frightening and unpredictable.
Within a day of living in Houston, I had found a great roommate who has a cozy house close to my job. My new job proves to be challenging and a great leadership opportunity. And everywhere I turn in this new city, a new friendship blooms.
There are times when I look at how well I’ve adjusted to life in Houston and I pridefully pat myself on the back. You managed to find yourself a great house close to work, I tell myself. And you’re making friends so easily, just like you always do. Most people wouldn’t have adjusted to a new life so well. Good job, Lins.
That’s like going on a coaster ride and praising yourself for surviving. Sure, you managed to pull down the safety bar and you didn’t do anything stupid to eject yourself from the ride, but that’s about the only credit you would deserve. The real credit for your safety goes to the engineers who designed the ride, the inspectors who checked the ride to make sure it’s safe and the person operating the ride.
God can’t help but amaze His children who are willing to take risks for His kingdom, whether it’s in relationships, location or vocation. When we release our fears into His hands, we’ll watch Him build confidence and courage in our hearts as we travel through life’s adventures with Him.