The bar popped into place and after checking my five point harness again, I white-knuckled gripped the thin metal pole. Closing my eyes, I tried to mentally prepare and send a request up to the big guy. Usually prayer provides a calming, peaceful feeling for me. But as I tensely sat in the uncomfortable metal bench, I began to inspect the ride and all aspects of peace left immediately. I noticed rust. The bungee cord didn’t look any thicker than a standard rubber band. The man with the cigarette in his mouth who stood in front of the levers looked way too young to know what he’s doing.
It’s going to snap. How old is it? Is he qualified to operate this thing? This is it -- I’m going to die. All because I made this stupid decision to ride this atrocity of a contraption to show others I am brave. Well, I am not brave. Nope. I just make very, very bad decisions and now I am going to be a ten second blurb on the evening news.
The other man who took our money checked our buckles and pulled the straps tight. He smiled and made small talk as I sat there sweating profusely. My best friend sitting next to me chatted him up while I stared at the back of my eyelids wishing I was anywhere but there.
“Are you saved?” he asked.
My eyes popped wide open. “Do I need to be?” I responded.
I’m guessing by the look on his face, this isn’t the usual response he gets when posing this question. To me it was a very legitimate question in response.
This had to be the epitome of a fire and brimstone approach after being strapped into the death machine. There is a good chance you could die on this ride tonight, so what will it be -- angel wings or the Lake of Fire?
I was sixteen on this Spring Break trip with my friend and her dad. Luckily for me I did believe in Jesus Christ at this age. Who do you think I was praying to?
“Yes!” I exclaimed. “Yes, I believe Christ is my savior. Now answer my question. Are we going to die tonight?”
The guy simply laughed and started a countdown. He didn’t count down all the way to one. Instead he pushed the button at two and we were catapulted into the sky. I opened my eyes once while we were at the top and I could see above the trees, so I quickly shut my eyes again. We made it safely back to the ground and I praised the Jesus he had asked me about.
As my pulse started to slow down and I exhaled the deep breath stored in my lungs, I was reminded we decided to pay for the special. The special where you ride a second time for five dollars. Begging to be let out, I offered to pay another five dollars to unbuckle me then. He counted to three and pushed the button.
I’m pretty sure this guy was a messenger of Satan.
You would think I would have opened my eyes for the second ride. You’d expect I went into the air a second time with confidence and bravery. After all, I had safely made it back to solid ground the first time. The second time should be a walk in the park. The video, the one my friend decided to buy as part of the “special” package proves otherwise. I’m just glad we hadn’t eaten dinner yet.
Looking back, I feel like the bungee cord ride has been pretty reminiscent of this ride we call “life”. There’s always something that seems to push a button hurling you into these out of control experiences. Your range of emotions repeat this vicious cycle of worry, doubt, and fear. Then you round it out with trust, peace, and praise.
We’re not immune to the snap of a rubber band, and we can’t always control the feelings we were innately designed with. And this year couldn’t be a better example of a fear inducing, bring you to your knees, what can possibly happen next, have to just let go of the grip kind of time.
But you can put your faith in the One who is in control. You can decide who buckles the seatbelt. He’s here so you can lay down your anxious thoughts. He’s more than willing to offer you His strength. You can rest assured, He’s got this – even through all of the chaos.
There is a Way and it is His Way.
Maybe we just need to be still enough, slightly uncomfortable, uncertain, doubtful, and fearful to hear His call. It could be a year of last chances. It could also be a year of new beginnings – all depending on the choices we make. Maybe it’s best to be locked in and asked the ultimate question. Your choice makes all the difference – the one between eternal life and death.
So, let me ask you this.
“Are you saved?”
“Do you need to be?”