Faith and Rollercoasters!
I have to admit, in my much younger days, I wasn’t much into riding rollercoasters. Yes, at that point of my life, the thought of riding rollercoasters kind of scared me. But why did I fear them? Perhaps I was overwhelmed with the complexity of the operation – the angles, the slopes, or the speed of the cars. Or maybe I just didn’t trust that they were safe to ride. Yes, I had doubts and, as a result, I did not ride a real rollercoaster until I was 50 years old with my nephew Grant at Kings Island outside Cincinnati. Can you believe that? But once I rode that first rollercoaster, I wanted to ride it again and again. And we did. In fact, I was so proud that I conquered my fears of rollercoasters that I bought Grant and myself T-shirts with the rollercoaster’s logo to commemorate the achievement.
Then a year later, my granddaughter Kyla, her cousin and I must have ridden the rollercoasters at Cedar Point in Ohio about 25-30 times. The point is that I overcame my doubts and fears that I had throughout much of my life about riding rollercoasters. The first time I completed a rollercoaster ride with the excitement and thrills of the twists and turns, and the air rushing against my face –– I finally trusted riding a rollercoaster. Even though I saw so many other people riding rollercoasters as a youngster, I didn’t trust the operation until I completed a safe ride myself. But, with all my fears and doubts, what made me take that very first rollercoaster ride at the age of 50? I didn’t really know the outcome, nor could I foresee a safe ride. Perhaps it was faith of believing in something that I could not predict. Or perhaps it was faith that God would protect me and everyone else on the rollercoaster.
When Jesus asked his disciple Thomas to “put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side,” he was dispelling the doubts that Thomas had about Jesus’ resurrection. After all, Thomas was the only one of the 12 disciples who was not present when Jesus first appeared before them. But even though the other disciples said that they “had seen the Lord,” Thomas had to see Jesus for himself to trust that he was truly Jesus. Thomas needed to see and feel a physical presence of Jesus. He needed proof. When Jesus proved his physical existence to Thomas, he was making a resounding statement about the meaning of faith. He said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
In our modern times, I would imagine that some of us know someone who needs to see proof of Christ before they commit to believing. During much of the last year, we have relied upon Faith to give us Hope. But what does Faith truly mean? Well, simply put, Faith is believing in something that we cannot see. Amidst all of the uncertainty surrounding the worldwide health pandemic, many of us have spent much time in prayer and have found comfort that the love of Christ strengthens our faith and offers hope for a return to normalcy.
From a scientific standpoint, we believe that many things exist that we cannot see. For example, we can’t see gravity, we can’t see wind, air or oxygen. We can’t see sound, emotions, cold, smell, radio waves, WiFi, and taste. We can’t see thoughts, energy, and, of course, our imagination. Even though we can’t see all those things, we know they exist. And yes, we know that Jesus exists through the words of the Bible and the testimony of billions of believers.
It is through the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ is present with us always. It is through our Faith that we Believe that Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, is watching over us - lifting our burdens, calming our fears, providing comfort in times of distress, keeping us strong in the face of temptation, and carrying us spiritually when we cannot carry ourselves.
As we continue a hopeful journey toward normalcy in 2021, our faith in Jesus Christ allows us to trust in a future that we cannot see - but a future that we embrace and welcome with open arms on the amazing rollercoaster ride of our eternal lives!