Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Roller Coaster Religion

The Labor Day weekend found me in a couple situations during which I was able to observe people of all ages riding roller coasters of all sizes. First, at Holiday World, a small theme park in southern Indiana that offers some of the world's best wooden coasters and second, at a local Labor Day carnival near our home. As I watched the riders I saw varied responses to the danger and excitement the rides presented. Some threw their hands into the air with great abandon hoping to heighten the exhileration of flying down a steep hill embracing the belly-thieving feeling of lost control, while others, clung to the seat with white knuckles having boarded the ride just to say they had or to placate their pleading companions. These pictures reminded me of the scene I have viewed on many a weekend at evangelical Christian churches during the group worship time. Some throw their hands in the air with great abandon reaching out to God and saying, "I'm all in. Take me on a spiritual adventure while others clutch the pew in front of them with white knuckles as they inch away from the obviously crazy holy-roller beside them who must be experiencing a hallucination during which she is headed down a steep hill on a roller coaster with her hands extended high into the air. In this same pew is another individual who raises her hands only so she isn't the only one who isn't. I mean, she doesn't want to appear to be a heathen in the presence of all these saints who seem to be so much closer to God than herself, and next to her is standing a person who raises her hands simply to portray that she is a saint although she knows that if anyone had seen her interacting with her family before church he would have known otherwise. This post is not about whether you ever raise your hands in worship or not because, honestly, as this scenario makes obvious, the raising of hands during a worship song during weekend services can reflect several different spiritual motivations some sincere and others not so much, only God and the individual who owns said hands knows which motivation is behind the supposedly worshipful posture, so I mention my roller coaster observations to ask you not, "what is your posture during worship songs, but what is your posture as you live your life?" Do you live your life as the first person in the pew embracing God's will for your life as if it were your own, fully submitted to abandoning the desires of your flesh in a manner that, at times, is terrifying to both you and those around you, or do you cling white knuckled to your own desires like my Lili did on her first and second solo ride on the kiddie, dragon roller coaster at the Labor day carnival, but I did notice that she relaxed a little with each lap around the track as if her mounting experience gradually convinced her that she was safe even though it felt scary and that if she allowed herself to fully enjoy every aspect of the experience it could be completely amazing and breathtakingly enjoyable:) I relate to her experience in my spiritual life as stated in 1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. The second part of this verse is where I draw a connection to Lili's roller coaster experience. Once we taste and see that the Lord is good we begin to trust and adore him in a whole new way that allows us to assume a posture of complete disregard for ourselves before him! When we obey God even when his advice doesn't make sence to us, we find out that His wisdim, his advice, his intentions, are GOOD, and it becomes a little easier for us to relax into allowing him to fill the role of LORD of our lives, which in all honesty, is the spirit's true equivalent of throwing your hands in the air in worship. God doesn't care what you do with your hands when you sing songs to him, but he is intimately invested in the posture of our spirits as we live our lives, so ask yourself, "Am I holding white-knuckled onto aspects of my life in an attempt to maintain full control, or do I daily throw my figurative hands in the air in total submission to God's will for my life?" If you don't know, here's a test for you to measure your true level of submission to God's authority in your life. Read Matthew 5:39-41 But I [Jesus] tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Now, before you bust your computer monitor tryng to reach through the screen to strangle me for these words I have typed, stop to consider that these are the recorded words from the good and holy lips of Jesus Christ, you know, the one, you likely say is Lord of your life if you label yourself a Christian, so why do these words irritate us so and raise our hackles? I really don't need you to answer that question because I am well aware of the answer from my own personal reaction that the thought of living life this way makes me feel vulnerable and unprotected and likely to end up as the world's doormat, and then, my question for myself is, "Why, Cori?" You have tasted and seen that the Lord is good! You have story after story that you share through your writing and speech that ooze with praise and commendations for the yumminess(beyond goodness) of living life with Jesus Christ as Lord (Boss), so why do you question him here on whether he knows what he's talking about in these scary potentially hurtful situations? What does this reveal concerning how submitted you truely are to him? You've experienced that life Christ's way is AWESOME as you have pried one white-knuckle loose at a time, and with each freed finger you KNOW the ride that life is just got BETTER and BETTER and BETTER and BETTER, so why not just let go COMPLETELY and stand before the Lord with both hands raised in complete submission to his will and make it possible to experience the heightened enjoyment and excitement of riding hands-free? I'm sharing my deepest thoughts with you here in hopes that it will get you thinking deeply about your own walk with Christ because I truely have tasted and seen that the Lord is excellent, and I totally think its worth it to follow his advice in everything even when its scary because from my personal experience it ALWAYS leads to blessing and joy beyond compare!:)
Another observation that stands out to me as I consider the experience I had over the weekend is that as I stood among the throng that had formed near the roller coaster entrance at a location that offered a good vantage point of some of the rides most frightening assests, I couldn't help but overhear the conversations of those around me that reflected admiration for the members of their group who had chosen to ride, and maybe even, a little regret that they hadn't joined them. Another common thread to the conversations was a recognition of the fun the riders wer having and possibly a little vicarious enjoyment as well:) I couldn't help but wonder why these individuals didn't just get in line and ride, so they could experience the fun for themselves. In sharing this, I am further extending Jesus' oringinal invite by inviting you to join me in enjoying life in a committment to FULL submission to Jesus Christ. Please, don't just stand and watch me enjoy the ride wishing you could experience it also!

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