Can you imagine candidates for the Navy Seals or the Army Delta Force in training, feet propped up watching war movies on television, drinking milkshakes and eating potato chips?
Last summer my grandson, Josiah, and I visited Disneyland near Paris. I’m not much of a ride-rider, but I decided to force myself to go on the ones I didn’t usually like—especially the roller coasters—so he wouldn’t have to do them alone.
When you’ve got grandchildren you find yourself trying things you didn’t think you’d do again. So, if you’d been a bird posed in a Disneyland tree you would have seen me doing a 360-degree loop on the Indiana Jones roller coaster.
And other than the crick in my neck afterwards, I kind of enjoyed it. That’s how I found myself later in the day, fortified by newfound courage, in front of the Space Mountain ride with Josiah.
I really didn’t know what it was. I had heard people scream when it took off inside its tunnel, but I didn’t think a lot about it. Girls scream all the time on rides. “Let’s ride this,” Josiah said.
It was a bit disconcerting when I read the warning sign as we were waiting in line. It seems that people with bad hearts or bad backs shouldn’t ride the ride. My heart was okay; my neck was cricked; and my courage leaked a little, but I was determined to go.
Well, that was a memorable two minutes. It was a roller coaster that flashed through the dark insides of the “mountain.” We blasted off like drag racers and twisted to the right and left, with an occasional flash of light as we sped blindly up and down. I was praying, “Lord, let this finish quickly.”
I lived through it.
When our little car swooshed to a halt, I staggered out, my legs wobbly but my heart was joyful. I don’t know if I was exultant because the ride was fun or because I was still living.
You know what, though? I think I grew. I did something that scared me even when I didn’t want to.
“Space Mountain” Deserts
Last week we talked about deserts, those tough times we face and wonder if we’ll ever get through. We’ve called them deserts and trials and now I’m comparing them to Space Mountain. They are where we grow.
Space Mountain is over in a few minutes, though. What good can possibly come from those challenges that seem never to end?
I don’t want to spout little plastic platitudes that do nothing but make us feel guilty. But, the Bible and common sense help us see why these things happen.
First, none of these hard times were God’s idea. He made the world perfect. Man rebelled. The result of our rebellion is a world that no longer functions like God meant it to.
How can God’s people grow from hard times, David? Well, let’s see.
The desert gets you ready for service. (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:1-4) Can you imagine candidates for the Navy Seals or the Army Delta Force in training, feet propped up watching war movies on television, drinking milkshakes and eating potato chips?
Muscles get strong when they meet resistance. Sick people learn that when they’re forced to stay in bed for extended periods, their muscles shrink. If you’re not prepared by training, you won’t be worth much the day of battle.
We’re funny. Sunday morning we sing about what powerful warriors we are in the Lord, and then the following week when something negative happens we whimper and say we don’t know what we’re going to do.
There may be a lot of tears during training for battle but we keep going forward. There may be a lot of moans during the battle itself but the Lord gives us strength. Nothing wrong with tears. Just make sure that when we’re crying we’re going forward anyway.
Anyone in life who accomplished anything traversed desert periods. We thrill to Joseph’s example as well as Moses’ and David’s. And Paul! Don’t even talk about Paul. I wouldn’t want to have the deserts they had—but I would love to have their results.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
“But, I don’t want a desert. I just want to be left alone.” Sorry, sweetie. There are some deserts that are common to mankind and each one of us faces them. You’d do better to use them to make you stronger.
Some deserts come because we were stupid. Check out David’s prayer in Psalms 51. Obeying God will keep you away from a lot of hurt. Those deserts you can avoid. Before you rail against God, you might ask yourself if your actions led you into the trial.
Sometimes, we get into battles because we’ve decided to do God’s will and as a result we get the devil stirred up. We move into territory that he has conquered and he doesn’t want to leave without a fight. That’s what Saul’s son Jonathan did. (1 Samuel 13:3). He would have avoided a trial if he’d just accepted the enemy’s domination, but he stood up to fight and kicked the enemy out of God’s territory.
Don’t just meekly accept what’s happening because … “This is a trial from God so …” A lot of this doesn’t come from God. The devil attacks you. Fight! The goal is growth and doing God’s will. Use your spiritual weapons! If you’re flying on “Space Mountain” don’t forget to fire your lasers!
Next week we’re going to talk about those weapons you have and we might even find some positive things in the desert—unexpected oases.
“At the end of the day we’re all looking for someone to comfort us, somebody to be there for us at all times. Jesus has always been there. He’ll never leave you, never forsake you.” Russell Wilson, quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks