Wednesday, April 30, 2014

After The Rain

Local meteorologists had predicted this turmoil for days.  Schools closed early as the severe weather was approaching.  Members of my community braced for what lie ahead.  Then the storms hit, including many tornadoes, with much destruction of property.  Unfortunately, there were also several fatalities.  Trees toppled, homes were damaged, even an old church destroyed.  Consequently, the governor of our state made a special trip to survey the damage to provide comfort to the victims.  Yet, this is only the beginning of our tornado season.  Sadly, there may be more vicious storms on the horizon.

However, once the storms subsided, I could not help but notice the renewed beauty in my neighborhood.  The grass was much greener, the trees seemed more endowed with leaves, the air seemed crisper.  All of these changes happened almost overnight.  Although I grieve for those who suffered loss of property or especially loss of life, there is a wonder of how life feels after the rain.

I imagine many people have written of the benefits of the storms of life.  Obviously, I feel well qualified after having cancer.  Mysteriously, life has added a new beauty, a wondrous happiness, an unexplained joy after living through this storm. 

When the storms were coming, especially reports of a tornado, I found myself taking shelter in the basement.  But, since the storms are over, I can bask in the sunlight and enjoy the rebirth of nature all around.  The storm has been, at least to me, a blessing.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Enjoy The Ride

Years ago, my high school choir had the privilege of attending a choir festival in Atlanta, Georgia.  I believe we sang in the newly constructed World Congress Center at that time. 

However, the greatest joy came from our trip to Six Flags the night before.  It was one of those rare opportunities where the amusement park had closed to the public that evening but was open to all who were participating in the choir festivities.  As a result, without having to wait in line, my fellow students and I could bounce from ride to ride in very little time. For a teenager, it was great fun.

Later the evening took a most ominous turn.  Although I had ridden some roller coasters previously, my peers ventured toward the newest and scariest looking roller coaster at that time, the Mindbender.  I observed very quickly that it had an aspect I had never encountered before in a roller coaster, for example, a complete loop off the initial hill where guests were completely upside down for a few moments.  Nevertheless, not wanting to be a party pooper, I climbed aboard the coaster with my classmates, not sure of what lie ahead. 

As with most roller coasters, we ascended up a steep hill at the beginning and then catapulted downhill towards the loop.  But I really didn't have anything to fear.  We glided through the loop so quickly that I hardly even realized I was upside down.  The speed was exhilarating.  From this point, we continued into more twists and turns, even hitting a smaller loop towards the end.  This loop, by the way, was so small it made me feel like my head was caving in. But afterwards we came to a stop in the station and the ride was over.

Yet, when the ride finished, I couldn't help but remember how much fun I had experienced on this coaster, that is, the velocity, the smoothness of the tracks, the thrill of it all. 

Years later, I started riding even more roller coasters and really loved it.   As a matter of fact, one time my wife and I visited Six Flags and rode every roller coaster except one.  What made me come to enjoy roller coasters over the years was one simple the ride. Even though some coasters ascend tremendous heights and achieve unbelievable speeds, there has to be that faith that you will return back to the station.  Everything will okay.  Just strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.

Life is also similar to a roller coaster.  Many ups and downs, unexpected turns.  However, if we trust the operator of the ride, i.e. our Heavenly Father, we know that eventually we will arrive safely to our chosen destination.  As Job said, "...He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).

So, climb into your seat.  Enjoy the speed, the loops, the hills.  You may want  to even raise your hands along the way.