I ADORE rollercoasters. They terrify me and thrill me and make me nauseous and happy all at the same time. I am a big fan. And lately, I don’t know about you, but my life has been rollercoaster-ish.
Life is full of thrilling heights – delightful times with my sweet kiddos, moments of ministry where God is just PRESENT, having love and understanding in this marriage God has given me to this man who is the love of my life, great times with hilarious new friends. MAN I love those times. So many times I just want to freeze frame. It is like traveling to a beautiful place and you look around and think “I am changed because I’ve seen this.” I love those moments. All of this makes me so grateful.
And then there are the crazy valleys of life – the silly stuff that is a bummer like all of the bodily functions you have to clean up after as a parent, the sleep deprivation, money struggles, the political drama going on, all those “UGH” moments. And then there are the deeply serious things – the losses you experience in this world, the families you minister to who have been devastated, the very real evidence of a terrible enemy of our souls, the students who know the truth and yet you watch them walk away and you know that if they ever come back – they will come back damaged, the times where you see children in our world (sometimes right on our streets) who are abused and neglected, and the stories and pictures you see of the millions of orphans without a home. Man it is hard to be grateful in those times. Hard to see God in the valley.
In American Beauty there was a really powerful quote: It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain. And I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.
It is certainly true that the big rollercoaster moments of life – the conflict of a good God and evil in the world – are hard concepts to reconcile. A few weeks ago I read a blog a precious mom (who goes by the name MckMama) wrote about the life of her sweet son, Stellan, who is battling a heart condition at 9 months old. It was incredible and you should read everything she writes – but I particularly loved this quote:
We live in a fallen, imperfect, temporary world. Our bodies cannot keep us here forever. While it is our strong desire to have Stellan in our arms for nine more months from today, and then nine more, and nine more after that, we know that that is not our call. God desires peace, wholeness and healing, too. But the very nature of this life we are currently living is that it is not eternal. Stellan will get the full healing that God wants. Whether his (surgery) in Boston is successful or not, Stellan’s body will be completely whole once he is in Heaven, whenever that is.
It’s the same for all of us. Our bodies are temporary, mortal, imperfect. I’ll never understand completely why God allows suffering, especially in children, just as He’ll probably never understand why we would sin against Someone who is perfect and has never done us any harm. But the facts are the facts: this world is not our home. Our forever home is in Heaven and my sights are set there. While we tread this temporary earth, I will do my darndest to focus on eternity. For that, my friends, is what truly matters.
Isn’t that wonderful? Here’s how I have reconciled the rollercoaster – and my thoughts echo MckMama’s – I believe the beauty and the thrills are evidence of the brilliant creative overwhelming love of our Maker. He just delights in blessing His children. And I am so thankful for those things. And the valleys and trials and horrible moments are evidence that this world is not our home. Evidence that this world has been given over to the enemy and evil is real and powerful. Not powerful in the end because we have eventual victory in Christ – but undeniable as we walk this earth.
It seems I write about this over and over but if this earth was the end of the story – I couldn’t stand to walk another day. But it isn’t the end of the story. God is good and so He has prepared a place for us that has no pain, no suffering, no enemy. And He has paid the price for our sin and shame so that we can live there blameless with Him. And when we trust in Him there becomes NOTHING that can separate us from the love of God and from the future with Him in paradise.
It is our hope.
Sometimes on this rollercoaster, our only hope.