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Somebody once said to me that fairground and theme park rollercoasters are a bit like Marmite, you either love them or you hate them! Now there aren’t many things that I don’t like, but I’m afraid that rollercoasters fall into that category. (I don’t like Marmite either!) Much to the amusement of the rest of my family, I can cope with the log flume, just about okay on the waltzer, and very happy on the lazy river, but I’ll be the first to the front of the queue to hold the coats and bags, whilst everybody else has their insides churned up and their arms and legs propelled in opposite directions by the phenomenon of g-force.
A long time ago I tried to work out why it was that I didn’t like it. I don’t think it was fear, because my brain knows that going on a rollercoaster is statistically far safer than crossing the road. It may be a little bit that it makes me feel a bit unwell, but I also know that the sensation of sickness passes very quickly once the ride has stopped. So, the conclusion that I came to was about the notion of being in control. With a rollercoaster, I definitely do not feel in control.
That idea might seem a bit strange when I consider what I used to do for a living. Now I’ve been retired from the fire brigade a few years, I can look back and think about some of the things I used to do, which on the face of it, make going on a theme park ride look very tame. To go into a house which is alight, full of smoke so dense you can’t see your hand in front of your face, might seem to say the least a bit mad, but I had a degree of control, I had breathing apparatus that gave me air when I wanted it, I had the fire kit that protected me from the flames, I had water to put out the fire, I had the training to recognise when I should move or not, but most of all I had a purpose to either rescue a person, or try to save the property. I had control, because I could decide the next move.
There are moments that we all have when we think to ourselves, ‘What am I doing here?’ Very few of those moments are as dramatic as shuffling my way through a smoke filled burning building, and very few are similar to the stomach in mouth feeling of a rollercoaster as it once again plummets vertically towards the ground. So what is it about those moments?
In those ‘What am I doing here?’ moments, my faith tells me that the words of Jesus should be in my mind. “Trust me – I am with you”. But how easy is it to do that, and perhaps more importantly, how willing am I to give it a go?
To a certain extent we all like to be in control, or at least think we are in control of what is happening in our lives. There is a comfort that we all crave by knowing what is going to happen next. There is even more comfort, if we feel we have either complete, or a degree of control, over our surroundings and situations. If we don’t know what’s next, this can cause us to be unsettled, anxious, and in some cases it can cause us to be ill. However, if we can’t control something ourselves, then handing them over to someone else is the next best option. When I’m a passenger in a car (I really am a useless passenger!), I trust the driver to get us to the other end of the journey safely. I trust the driver of the train, I trust the pilot of a plane, I trust my dentist, I trust a doctor if I’m sick, I trust the chef in a restaurant, etc, etc… But I don’t have any control over them. Why then would I find it difficult to trust Christ?
Could it be that in all of the other examples, I can physically experience what the other person, a person just like me, but with various other skills and talents, does to affect an outcome? Because I can’t see Christ in the same way, do I think to myself that he might not be there – if so where is Christ with me?
Our faith, and Christ himself, tells us that He is with us at all times. He is with us in the driver, the pilot, the doctor, the friend, the neighbour and He is with and in us to others. I just have to trust and understand that the power of Christ transcends our human limitations. I also have to understand that when I give my trust to Christ, it is not down to me to determine what the outcome will be. This is similar to when we hear someone say, “I prayed for….., but it didn’t work!”
Putting our Trust in Christ, means that we accept whatever is the outcome. We accept it as His plan for us, and we are prepared to say – “this isn’t in my control, but yours”. And that might just be a bit scary, it might be life-changing, it also might just be exactly as we think we wanted it to be, but we don’t know until we get to that point.
There are very few people that will be able to really say that their life has been completely as they had planned it. All the different twists and turns that make up our journey. God gives us the ability to make informed choices about our lifestyle, we have choices about the things we do and we have quite a degree of control on a daily basis.
However, every so often we aren’t able to control things as we wish, those are the moments when we have to say, “I trust – you are with me”. We then have to accept the outcome, saying, ‘I am here because you have lead me here – what next Lord?’
As we come towards Christmas, this year with it’s many challenges and so much out of our control, perhaps we can take a bit of time to reflect and ask ourselves, Do I give myself to trust in Christ, as much as He gives me the choice to trust Him?
Deacon Ian Black