I love how God will use the little things to help me in my walk with Him. He will use simple examples to speak about what the Word means or to help guide me through something. The other day I was thinking about roller coaster Christians. They are people who are up and down all the time. They kind of ride the waves of life and go where circumstances take them. This is opposed to solid Christians who have circumstances in their lives that suck or can be great, but they have a solid foundation in Christ so they don't fall into traps of circumstances. But as I was thinking about this, God was showing me this in context of a couple of kids' games. Many of you have played one or both or have kids who have played one or both.
The roller coaster Christian is like the game Chutes and Ladders.
This game is probably the most frustrating game that I have ever played. You can advance quickly in the game, or you can get sent all the way back to the beginning very quickly. In any given turn you can go from the lead to last place. You can get stuck in cycles of up and down. Just as soon as you think you might win, you drop down to the bottom. It is so frustrating! I know that people have walks with Jesus like this though. You don't know where you stand with Him. One minute things are good and you are following after Him, then boom you stumble a little. But it's not just a stumble - it sends you back to the beginning. You are no longer running the race that Paul exhorts us to do, but instead you are trying to figure out where on the map you are. Your life feels like chaos because you don't know where you stand with God, or you feel like He is mad at you for the choices you made. Both of these are symptoms of a life that isn't founded in the Word of God. If you aren't in the Word, you will feel like this. I know this, because if you are in the Word you will know how much that God does love you. You will know that once you are in His hand, there is nothing that can take you from it.
The person who lives their life in the Word following after Jesus is like playing Candy Land.
In Candy Land, you are almost always moving forward. You occasionally draw one of those candy cards that can take you backwards, but every other turn you go forward. You sometimes get stuck on licorice, but you move forward. You always know where you are on the board, and you don't worry about what is going to happen next. You just move as quickly as you can to King Kandy's Castle. The speed at which you advance can vary depending on the cards you draw, but there is way less drama in this game. The race is awesome as you go through cool places like the Peppermint Forest or Frosted Palace, which are like seasons or circumstances in life. But you also go through Licorice Lagoon, which is not a good place to be. (Why people like licorice, I don't understand. I'm sorry if you do.) The person who is founded in the Word of God will move forward. Every once in a while you might go back a little bit and relearn something you already learned, but you are back moving forward again right afterward. Life throws circumstances at you that might really suck, but it doesn't alter who you are or how you run the race. You keep pressing in on the Lord.
Here is the cool thing about it - it doesn't matter which game you are playing, you will finish the race. One race isn't the race that God would have you to run though, and it is way more frustrating than the one that He has called you to. When we go in a direction that God doesn't want us to go, it is like beating our heads against the wall. The other way isn't always pretty or glamorous (or filled with candy), but it is satisfying and fulfilling knowing that I am doing what God wants me to be doing. I am doing what He has called me to do. Even when times get tough, even when things aren't perfect, I can know that He is there with me and is leading me along that nice candy road towards the Father. It is in those days that I know the circumstances and things that we go through in life aren't in vain. God will use them for His glory and His purpose because I am following after Him. That is the only way we make it through some days, is knowing that He is in control.
Which race do you want to run?