The doctors said she had three months to live. But Paula heard “you have three months until you get to see Jesus”.
At that point in Paula’s journey, the transforming journey to her final destination began. Our hard-headed-turned-soft-hearted friend was learning so much in such a small amount of time. Lessons about grace and forgiveness, lessons about life on earth and life in heaven; lessons about relationships and perspective were abundant.
So, when she leans across the table to tell you something… you listen. You clear your mind, you get out your mental post it notes and you lock in to every word she is going to say. After she recounted her journey with cancer, she looked me in the eyes and said,
“If you surrender your life to God…then you better buckle up…it’s going to be a wild ride.”
And that couldn’t be more true. Think a bit about the biggest roller coaster you have ever been on…Superman, Shockwave, Steel Eel, Space Mountain or the Runaway Mine Train. They are all wild rides!
Rides like these feel so unpredictable. As the operator reminds you to buckle up, your heart races and your smile broadens as you prepare for this two minute adventure. The cars move out of the building slowly and methodically as they begin their careful turn around the first corner and up the first hill where you take in amazing views. Unless you are in the front car, you don’t know just when the drop is going to occur…and even then you aren’t fully prepared for just how long the descent will take. You brace to be thrown to the left and your body lunges to the right. Even if you have been on a roller coaster as often as a teenage boy with a season pass to Six Flags, it’s hard to tell or remember where the big curves are or just how quick the big drops come…not to mention how long they will last.
These rides feel out of control at times. You want to smile and laugh, but gravity has your cheeks around your shoulders. It will be wild. And it will be good. You want to scream, but your voice has landed in your shoes.
And if you think about it, there isn’t a roller coaster with just one car. It’s always a bunch of cars and they are connected together. All committed to surrender to the same wild ride. Everyone’s view is different. Everyone’s experience is their own. But they are all on the same track with the same end destination…parking this wild ride on some stable ground with a great adventure behind them.
It’s so entertaining to wait in line and watch folks get off on to the solid, calm deck. The passengers have so many different reactions: laughing with delight, reenacting each other’s reactions, kissing the ground, tears of fear, shaking with the thrill and utter silence.
Paula’s words were such a perfect picture of our life with Christ. “If you surrender your life to God…then you better buckle up…it’s going to be a wild ride.”
We are not in control of where our life’s ride will take us. The Lord has the same track for all Christ followers. Our destination is to pull our earth car up right next to Jesus. Whether it’s ultimately being with Him in heaven or striving to know Him each day on earth.
Some days feel like the beginning of the roller coaster…visiting, smiling, and anticipating…but still not in control, simply along for the ride. Some seasons are the hair raising, scream inducing, back popping crazy curves and turns. But, we can be sure each calm uphill climb and breath taking drop of the wild ride takes us closer to our destination…Jesus.
It’s a wild ride….and it’s personal…it’s unpredictable and it’s an adventure with an ending that has us stepping onto some mighty good solid ground.
And sometimes…heck, all of the times, there is nothing more we can do than throw our hands up in the air towards the engineer that so personally designed our wild ride and go for it.