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Enjoying The Ride Of Life

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I think one of the bonuses to living in Southern California is our proximity to Disneyland.  Now I realize not everyone feels the same way, but our family loves it.  We have been fortunate enough to have annual passes for a few years.  One of the years we had passes our kids were small, so every time we went, we rode every ride in Fantasyland and Toontown.  Those 45-minute waits for the Dumbo ride about killed me!  When our kids were older we were able to get annual passes again and I was determined to say goodbye to Fantasyland.  I couldn’t wait to introduce them to the “big kid” roller coasters.  

My daughter loved just about all the rides, but one ride she hates to this day is Indiana Jones.  When she was smaller I would acquiesce to her protest of the ride.  However, being the great dad that I am, now that she is older, I just drag her on the ride.  Even though she is on the ride, she refuses to “be on the ride”, closing her eyes the entire time.  She fails to see my logic that, as long as you have to be on the ride, you might as well enjoy it.

A few months back my wife and I were talking about life and I likened it to the proverbial roller coaster — an image that is very common.  Life, like a roller coaster, has its ups, downs, twists and turns.  This time, however, I realized there are two types of people on the ride of life: those who close their eyes and wait for the ride to be over and those who throw their hands up and enjoy the ride.

I have been both.  I want to be the latter…God help me to be the latter!

I hardly feel like a giant in the faith.  In fact, often times I feel like I’m looking for where I left my faith — it’s probably with my keys.  But then I remember the father of our faith, Abraham, wasn’t perfect in this area either.  So here are a few things that help me enjoy the ride:

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

I made a commitment to myself and my family to not bring my work troubles home.  Some days I’m better at that than others, but I’d have to say overall I’ve been better and it seems to work for me.  I won’t say too much about this here because I wrote on it at the beginning of the year. If you would like to read more about it, click here.

Remember The Past

In Joshua 4, God commanded Joshua to set up piles of stones so that “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ [they will] tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’”  My journey has had some twists and turns I didn’t see coming, but looking back I can see how every situation caused me to become a better father, spouse, leader, neighbor, and friend.  If I don’t go through those unforeseen turns, I’m not the same person I am today.  Remembering how God has used the ride in the past helps us embrace it in the present.

My Choice To Rejoice

A few years ago I wrote a song entitled, My Choice To Rejoice.  This idea has been something I have tried to teach and model to my worship team and church community.  Worship is a choice we make, not a feeling we slip into.  Too often I’ve heard the phrase, “I wasn’t feeling it in worship today.”  Without sounding too brash, I’m glad Jesus didn’t say “I’m not feeling it” in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Instead, he said, “Not my will, but yours be done.”  Feelings can sometime lead us astray.  Worship is something we can do no matter what part of the ride we are on.  In fact, some of the sweetest times of worship are when your hands are in the air and you are upside down and twisting, defying gravity.  In those times, we tend to call out for Jesus with a little more conviction.

Learn How To Duck-Dive

If you were to find yourself at the beach on a great surf day, the waves can get huge and quite intimidating.  When one of these huge waves is about to crash on you, your natural reaction is to run or swim away.  Even though it isn’t intuitive, swimming towards the wave is often the best course of action because you can dive under the wave (duck-diving).  By duck-diving the wave, you can avoid the wave crashing on top of you, pushing down and tossing you around.

There have been many times I have wanted to run.  I think my heart is a runner by nature.  I see the proverbial wave coming and I say, “Lord, get me out of here.”  Whether it is a confrontation that needs to take place or a horrible situation you find yourself in, don’t run from it.  Learn what it means to “duck-dive” in the circumstance or season you find yourself in.  Through prayer, God’s Word and a willingness to say, “Not my will, but yours be done” God will show you how to meet the challenge you face head on.

Are you at odds with your pastor/boss?  Are you struggling with a worship team member?  Is there a confrontation that needs to take place?  Do you struggle with conflicting visions?  All these situations — and more — can make you want to swim away.  Don’t swim away.  Swim towards the wave.  You will become more mature — a stronger swimmer — for the next wave.

Roller coasters can be intimidating & exhausting.  However, there is a reason we keep getting on them at amusement parks.  Life would be awfully boring without them.  I listed just 4 things I have found to be helpful on the ride.  I’m sure you have found some great lessons from your ride as well.  Please share them with everyone in the comments below.

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