Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pastor's Perspective - The Ultimate Ride

Boy, my dogs are still barkin! (Southern Translation: ‘Boy’- ‘ouch!’, ‘dogs’ - ‘feet’, ‘barkin’ - ‘hurting!’)

Our wonderful twins, Sam and Abi, recently entered the amazing realm of ‘teendom’! My sweet wife Michelle and I decided to surprise them with a long weekend trip down to Six Flags Magic Mountain as a family, a place we had seen several times from the road but never visited. What a blast! For three days straight we used our passes and walked all over that packed and bustling piece of real estate – waiting, riding, screaming, walking, waiting, riding, screaming, walking. We loved making memories together; but, the toll on the feet at the end of the day was treacherous! You all know that discomfort, don’t you? It’s the satisfied anticipated exhaustion you experience as you literally hobble back to your vehicle. But, that’s the price of fun – the price you pay if you’re going to ride.

Speaking of rides, in my opinion, the centerpiece of the entire park is one called ‘Superman: Escape from Krypton’ – a ride I believe the devil himself created with a design team of masochists! On this particular ride, the passenger is strapped like a fighter pilot into a car, then is suddenly propelled backwards accelerating to 100 mph in seven seconds, before shooting up a vertical 41-story tower and back down! For the first two days we all just watched it from below shaking our heads. All six of us said things like, “I’d never get on that,” “You have to be crazy to go on that,” and “Never in a million years.” To make a long story short, we rode it multiple times our last day and loved it! That ultimate ride that we feared the most became our favorite of the entire trip.

Here is the evolution of us conquering our fears on Superman. I watched a young man exit the ride who was very much alive, smiling and inviting his friends to join him. I found that very reassuring! So, I dug down deep, rode it alone, loved it, exited the ride very much alive (Thank you Lord!), smiled and invited my children to join me. They accepted my invitation and we made an exhilarating victory memory together our last day.  

Life is quite a ride, isn’t it? It is a ride that is a compilation of rides. Some of those bundled rides are called childhood, marriage, parenthood, aging, education, vocation, and so on.
Sometimes these rides at times may seem slow, meandering, predictable, even boring; then without warning they begin to spin you, launch you, driving you backwards, sending you plummeting, dizzied and disoriented, testing you, pushing you to the limit, making you face your worst fears, while somehow simultaneously giving you awe-inspiring glimpses you’d never see standing safely on the ground from a stationary position. And just when you think the ride is over, before you catch your breath, it leaps to life propelling you in a new heart-racing direction! Yep, life is quite a ride.

This past weekend I was reminded that all of our life-rides, though immensely diverse, eventually merge into the Ultimate Ride – a ride even greater than Superman – an unavoidable ride – a ride we must all enter regardless of who we are, where we live, what we own, who we know, or what we’ve done – the Ultimate Ride called ‘Eternity’.

Many people in Solano County choose to live their lives like the Ultimate Ride doesn’t exist. Some live thinking that their rides will be long ones, only to find themselves on the Ultimate Ride before they anticipated – before they were truly ready.

Imagine something for a moment. Imagine the buzz, speculation, media coverage and fear that would surround an amusement park ride somewhere where people entered but never walked out! Yet, this has been the reality and mystery of the Ultimate Ride for centuries from generation to generation. Everyone wants to know, ‘What happens after you die? Everyone goes in, but nobody comes out.’

It’s Easter-time 2013.

For Christians around the globe it is a day representing so much more than pastel eggs and chocolate bunnies. It is the day in human history and documented in Scripture when a young man named Jesus after entering the Ultimate Ride emerged alive and well, smiling and reassuring the world that the ride of life doesn’t end with our last heartbeat, but continues – that He is the Ultimate Ride!

Christ’s predicted emergence from the tomb validated that all He did and all He said was divinely approved. For instance, that there was a real Hell to shun and a real Heaven to gain – that His substitutionary death on the Cross was enough to forgive the worst of sinners - that the endless Ultimate Ride of Eternity would be either exhilarating and blissful or horrifying and regrettable based on whether or not people placed their faith in Him as their personal Lord and Savior – that we didn’t need to fear the Ultimate Ride – He went in and came out victorious!

Are you ready for the Ultimate Ride?

The good news is – through the risen Christ you can be!

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