Saturday, September 2, 2023



It is no secret that I have an aversion to amusement parks.  I don’t like the crowds, I don’t like the heat, and overall I don’t care for the rides.  I am not ashamed to speak of my cowardice, though that has not always been the case.  In fact, I remember that on my first ever excursion to Valleyfair, (Minnesota’s only viable option for outdoor rollercoaster thrill rides), I pretended to be fearless.  Additionally, I mimicked enjoyment secretly loathing the next thrilling “I might die” moment.    

Just last week I was listening to my youngest daughter describe her own recent rides on some of Minnesota’s less than legendary coasters.  She spoke of how on one of the rides, she was harnessed into the attraction with her feet hanging below her and was then hauled “straight up,” and then accelerated “straight down…face first.”

“Wow! How did you like that?”

“Ehhh, I didn’t really want to go on it, but I didn’t want to be the only one who didn’t ride it…so I went on it.” (The apple doesn’t seem to fall too terribly far from the tree.)

“Was that the scariest ride?” I asked.

“It would have been if it hadn’t been for this other one.”

“Which one?”

“The one where my seatbelt came unbuckled and I thought for sure I was going to fall out! In fact, I think that I probably would have if I hadn’t been holding on so tight to the crossbar! I totally thought I was going to die!”

This reminded me of a similar experience that I had had on that pioneering trip to Valleyfair 35 years ago.  My friend Matt had insisted that we ride the “Viking Ship.” 

It looked safe enough.  The swinging ship mostly went back and forth…except for the three times it goes upside down and hangs you there in mid air long enough to allow all of your gumball machine money to fall out of your pockets and into the hands of the pimple faced teenager controlling the ride. 

As we buckled into the ride my “friend” Matt intentionally loosened the lap belt…AND…did not pull the locking shoulder harness tight against us.  Rather he left the harness loose and insisted, “It’s more fun this way!”

In hindsight I can tell you…it was not more fun and just like my daughter, I thought that I was going to die.  I had NEVER held onto anything so tightly in my life…except for maybe the hands of my children while exiting the movie theater after watching The Sound of Freedom. 

An image has come into my mind that ties these moments of fear in our lives with the security that only God offers.  It is no secret that we as Americans are obsessed with security.  We have locks, dead bolts, car alarms, security cameras, door bell cameras, dogs, baseball bats, broom sticks, tennis rackets, golf clubs and in some cases a rubber spatula, to help protect our things.  We tend to hold onto our stuff too tightly, trying to do all that we can to keep our possessions from being taken from us.

Sometimes I wonder if we do the same thing with God.  We try and hold on to God so tightly trying to never let him go.  Perhaps we fret and work at doing the right things so that we will be accepted.  We might even be afraid that if I slip up and sin that I will somehow lose my grip on God and lose my salvation.  I think Paul is revealing something very noteworthy in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15.  Here the Thessalonian believers are so afraid of missing out on the Day of the Lord…and the salvation that God has promised, yet, Paul is insisting that they have not missed anything.  Paul reveals that they are secure…they are in the grip of God’s grace.  Perhaps it is not about how tightly we are holding on to God…but how tightly HE is holding onto us.

May we remember the words of Jesus in John 10:28-29 where he assures us that no one can snatch us from His hand…nor the Father’s hand.

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