My dad had taken me on all kinds of rides at Riverview Amusement Park that day - but he wanted to take me on their biggest roller coaster, "The Bobs." I did not share his excitement. I'd seen the commercials with people screaming in terror as they were catapulted through space on those murderous ups and downs. But I gave in. As we were subjected to those heart-stopping heights and drops, Dad tried to talk to me. I didn't scream, I didn't cry - I didn't do anything. I was frozen. No sounds, no expression, no signs of life.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Stocks, Profits, And Other Exciting Roller Coasters."
I guess that roller coaster was supposed to be fun - I just wanted off! Actually, a lot of folks are feeling that way these days - folks who've been riding the financial roller coaster on Wall Street, in corporate earnings, in layoff threats. If it was ever "fun," it's not fun anymore! There's a growing uneasiness about the future for many people. But it's not just about the latest high or low on the Dow Jones - it's just the nature of any security that is rooted in "earth-stuff" of any kind.
In a sense, all earth stuff is a roller coaster. Just ask anyone who's suddenly lost their home in a storm or a fire, or who've lost a 30-year job, or even their personal health or their life partner. Just like that roller coaster I dreaded, a lot of us have felt the bottom suddenly drop out of something we were counting on.
Which gets us thinking about what is really important in the short ride we have here on earth. In a sense, everything in our lives can be divided into one of two columns - stuff that really matters and stuff that really doesn't. And while our roller coaster is riding high, we tend to neglect the things that really matter. Like the God who made us. The God we'll meet the moment our heart beats for the last time.
The problem is that your earth-pursuits may have blinded you to what really matters - to what really lasts. They may have even marginalized God in your life. Most of us make a little room for God at the edges - a little church, a little charity. But He's God! He's supposed to be the "sun" we revolve our life around, not one of the "planets" that revolves around us.
Mark 8:36, our word for today from the Word of God, provides the ultimate profit-and-loss sheet on your life and mine. Jesus simply asked, "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" A little later He told about a rich man who was planning how to expand his already huge empire and relishing that he had "plenty of good things laid up for many years," God broke in and said, "This very night your life will be demanded from you" (Luke 12:16-20).
One day God will surprise you with that same announcement - "It's over." And then all that will matter is whether or not the sins of your life have been forgiven - whether or not you belong to the God who made you. But because we've all been so full of "us," the Bible says there's a "grand canyon" between us and our Creator. It can only be bridged by Jesus Christ - because He died on the cross to take the rap for every wrong thing you've ever done.
And the "roller coaster" you've ridden lately may actually be a wakeup call from God - to turn you from what can never be secure to an anchor relationship with Him that you can never lose.
There may be more ups and downs - but you're headed into your future, anchored to the never-leave-you love of Jesus Christ - and knowing that this ride ends in His arms.