I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. – John 10:28
This will go down as a unique summer for me. I recently remarked to my wife this may well be the first summer in memory that I have not visited an amusement park. For some this is likely no big deal. But there is one thing that you must understand about me. I am a certified thrill-ride fanatic. No I’m not a card-carrying member of ACE, the American Coaster Enthusiasts, and do not transverse the country seeking out thrill rides like some groupie following a rock band, but for me riding coasters is a huge rush. Fortunately for me, my wife shares my enthusiasm. My first inkling that she might “be the one” was on our second date when we went to an amusement park. She had as much enjoyment as I did riding all of thrill rides. (I contrast this to a date with a prior girlfriend at the same amusement when the most thrilling activity we engaged in was playing miniature golf!)
I believe the reason that I’m so attracted to thrill rides is the sense of controlled chaos. I believe the desire to be frightened or to seek thrills is innate in many human beings. That is why horror movies have remained a popular genre of film since the inception of motion pictures. Whether it a roller coaster ride or a horror movie, the experience is controlled. It is rare the coaster rider or movie goer is any real danger, and in the back of their minds, they know it. As a result these thrill seekers are free to enjoy the experience all the while knowing they are ultimately safe.
As a Christian, I’ve questioned why I sometimes feel more secure strapped in the harness of roller coaster than I do placing the full weight of my trust in Jesus Christ. I’ve concluded that at some level, much to my embarrassment, it is easier to trust in the roller coaster engineers, builders and operators than it is in Christ. I think that is because the means of my safety and security on a roller coaster are visible. Upon entering the coaster car, I am securely locked in by a safety harness. I hear the reassuring click, locking the device into place. The teen-aged ride operator gives a tug on the harness to further ensure its snugness.
Our sense of security in Christ is based upon our faith in him, which by definition is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). It is easy to see and feel the safety harness in the ups and downs of a roller coaster ride, but God’s providential hand of security is not always easy to “see” during the ups and downs of life.
We are sometimes fearful and uneasy in life because God’s idea of safety and security may differ from ours. As I heard Charles Stanley say years ago, “God’s primary goal is not our ease, comfort and pleasure but rather conformity to the image of his Son.” God’s means of conformity are often difficulties, setbacks and heartaches. Some Christians have unwittingly bought into the notion that God’s primary job is to “fix” the circumstances of our lives. You can sometimes pick this up in their prayers. They pray for their lives to work out, for God to keep their children from going astray, for financial security and good health. There is nothing inherently wrong with prayers of safety and security. But accompanying these prayers should prayers like of the Apostle Paul, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:10-11). The Apostle of old was not some masochist who sought to curry God’s favor through self-flagellation like the prophets of Baal (see 1 Kings 18:28). Paul understood that renunciation of self and being consumed with knowing God and embracing his love was the highest plain to which a Christian could aspire (see Eph. 3:16-18.) He also understood any acclaim or prestige gained in this life is fleeting (see Phil. 3:1-9).
God envelopes us in the safety harness of his love, that cannot be broken any force in this world or in the realm of the heavenlies (see Romans 8:38-39). It was keep us secure in the wilds rides of this life and ultimately secure for all eternity in the next life.