Faith and Roller Coasters

Top Thrill Dragster. Sounds like a race car, doesn’t it? In some ways, it is. If you don’t know, it’s actually a roller coaster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH that is based on the top fuel dragsters. The ride is over ten years old, now and when it was built it was the tallest, fastest roller coaster in the world. At the highest point, the coaster is 420 feet in the air. It shoots you out from a dead stop to 120 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds. Once the launch happens, the entire ride takes 17 seconds. You go up the big hill, over, and then right back down. And I rode it, even though at first, I really didn’t want to.

I love roller coasters. I’ve been to a number of different theme parks and have ridden a number of different coasters. From the tallest, fastest wooden coasters to the super twisty steel coasters, I’m game for pretty much any kind of roller coaster. Unfortunately, until this past Monday, I had never been to Cedar Point, which I was told was the best theme park for roller coasters. For some reason, I have just never made the trip up to Sandusky (probably the five and a half hour drive had something to do with it). That changed when my brother scheduled a trip with my nephew and some friends from Florida and invited me too. So I jumped at the chance! But Top Thrill Dragster wasn’t on my list I wanted to ride.

As we got to the park on Monday, the forecast looked terrible. Rain most of the day. Eventually it let up, which was great because the park wasn’t very full and we were able to ride almost every ride. Near the end of our day, we decided to try Top Thrill Dragster. I gave in and decided to ride. There was not much of a line, but we still had to wait around 5-10 minutes, watching the cars get shot out to the 120 MPH over and over. The butterflies in my stomach were seemingly getting bigger the closer I got to the ride. I’m not a huge fan of heights, especially when I’m only being held in by a lap bar and a seat belt. It was eventually our turn to be loaded into the cars. My nephew decided to sit with me and we buckled in. He asked if I was ready, and I’m pretty sure I said no. It didn’t matter anymore because we were going. And then you wait. Like at a drag race, there is a start light that has three white lights and a green. When the green hits, you go. My eyes were focused on this tree, and it seemed to take forever. Finally, the lights lit and we were off! And at that point, my fears were gone. I was just enjoying the pure speed of the ride. It was an amazing 17 seconds. There was really no reason for me to be afraid, either.

You see, earlier, when it was raining, we knew there was going to be a break in the rain at some point, so we went to sit in the line to wait for it to open. At the entrance, there was an employee, a college student from New York on an internship. His major was mechanical engineering and he shared with us many of the details of the amazing structure and ride that Top Thrill Dragster was. He told us about the cars and that for each wheel there were six wheels, two on the top, two on bottom and two of each side of the track. These wheels made sure the train wouldn’t leave the track. The structure, because of its height, acts as a lightning rod, dispersing any electricity safely down and away from the track and other rides in the park. It was an interesting conversation that really didn’t connect with me until after I rode the coaster.

As I sit here today, it makes me think about our relationship with God. Sometimes I wonder if we end up worrying about things that are completely out of our control. We worry about our jobs, about where food is coming from, about the illness, about our love lives, just about anything. Sometimes we forget that the work has already been put in, the engineering has been done to perfection. Worry about a roller coaster almost led me not to ride it. Does worry about life lead people to not trust God? Jesus, as part of the Sermon on the Mount, preached about worry in Matthew 6:25-34. Here’s what He says:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

This past Sunday, we talked about boldly trusting God. Whatever your worry, you can trust that He will walk through that with you, never leaving you. It may not turn out the way you planned, but God will be there with you.