Yesterday we went to Cedar point, an amusement park on the skirts of Ohio, bordering Michigan. Two good friends of ours, one of whom actually went on the trip with us to Uganda this year, treated several of us kids and a friend to a field trip of sorts.
There is a ride at Cedar point, a ride the park is planning to demolish in September, called “Mean Streak”. The ride is aptly named him because when you sit in the back of one of the four seater cars, two people to a row, two rows per car, the ride is arduous, violent, and jerky nigh unto death. I overheard a group talking in the lane in front of me of how they never rode in the back of the cars and why, I didn’t think much of it at the time. Though, after nearly dying on the ride, I thought more intently on what they had said. Come to find out, when you ride in the front of a car, Mean Streak becomes one of the best rides in the entire park. I spoke with the ride attendant before boarding the second time; I wouldn’t have even considered a second run in my worst nightmares had my curiosity not been piqued by that group that said the front was a different ride. Well, the attendant assured me that significantly less death occurred in the front of the cars than the back and I had to take her word for it. But, she was right. The front was a different world entirely; the contrast between the two rides was night and day!
It was a lesson redemption for me. I got off and talk to Daniel Knudsen, the friend who joined us, about how the two different rides we took on the same coaster could be likened to a life before and after Christ. How they are the same ride, taken in the same cars, on the same track, yet one ride is tumultuous, even sickening, and the other is peace and exhilaration simultaneously. Our lives without Christ are awful: so hopeless, so confused and afraid we just want to die; end it all, escape the pain. That was the first ride through exactly as it felt. But then when we let go of ourselves and surrender to Christ, life is still a coaster, wild and frightening; but there isn’t a fear of death or pain. The second ride through was all this and more.
It is interesting that this experience, these observations come so closely after our conversations about worldview in our different genres and areas of ministry. The application and perspectives were similar to our previous conversation, almost as if it had been planned.
But today was a lesson learned from a roller coaster. How often does that happen?
Many of you have seen that hashtag accompanying a Facebook live post of a prayer. I did one of them at the theme park yesterday, but it was observed by a dear friend of mine and shown to me how this could appear to people: for example, praying in public simply for others to hear or for vanity’s sake makes us as the Pharisees and self-righteous spoke of in Matthew 6. That caused me to ask a question I should’ve asked myself before I started this “challenge”: why am I doing this? What I came up with were several selfishly motivated reasons for doing the 7 day prayer challenge, but not one solid, beneficial, sound reason for why I felt I should do it.
I began to think differently, to study and think more in-depth about a seemingly simple Facebook post. What I came up with is what you will see throughout the remaining 5 days of this project. Beginning today, I am converting my 7 day prayer commitment into a 7 day bible study group and devotional time ended with a prayer. I don’t want you to hear just my words asking God for things or praising Him. I want God to move in you and reveal something to you, that He would teach us all how to truly pray and praise in a way that God would hear and answer us.
This isn’t my public personal time with God, this is a community of Facebook believers gathered to worship God and hopefully glean some valuable truth from His Word as we go about our daily lives. Here’s the link to my account page: Jared Allen Facebook, whenever the video is posted you can see it on that page.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist