I confess that I once waited in line to ride a roller coaster at an amusement park for close to three hours. It was the newest ride in the park and the main reason I purchased a ticket that day. I had been anticipating this new sit-down, feet dangling, loopty-loop thrill ride since the moment I heard it was being built.
I couldn’t wait to board the roller coaster and experience this new thrill ride, unlike any coaster I had ever ridden. I was a teenager at the time and I am going to date myself and say it was before cell phones. All I had to entertain me while I waited was a friend to talk to and the screams of the people soaring on the ride as they flew by above my head. Even though the conversation was nice, the wait was long.
With each step that took me closer to the ride, my heart began to race a little more. I was nervous, scared, and excited all at once. I hated waiting and felt like I was going to be in that line forever. Since I had never ridden this roller coaster or any like it, I had no idea what to expect. There were the comments of others who had ridden it before, but they were conflicting. “It was amazing.” “It was terrifying.” “I wanted to throw up.” “I could ride it 100 times.”
I had no idea how I would react and there were moments in that line when I almost panicked and walked away. I had to convince myself over and over that I would regret it if I didn’t see it through to the end and ride it at least once.
As I waited and people watched, I also found myself irritated with people who cut in front of us to catch up with their friends. There were even people who brazenly cut the line and acted like they had been there the whole time. I could tell people were irritated, but they didn’t say a word and let it happen.
Finally, when my turn came, all of the build up of anticipation and mixed emotions made it worth the wait. I was glad I hadn’t chickened out. The ride was frightening, yet fun at the same time. Looking back I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the experience, even those who cut the line. They reminded me that if I had done the same thing I would have cheated myself out of enjoying the moment fully because I would have known how those around me would have felt and my conscious would have nagged at me.
This was a small 3 hour wait for a ride. Sometimes in life the Lord shows us a blessing in the future and then tells us we must wait, we must grow, we must walk a path through discomfort and patience, in order to get there. Even when we know that at the end of the wait we will be blessed, we struggle with the line before us.
We can’t see the blessing fully and we grow weary of waiting. As we walk toward the blessing, our emotions become heightened, much like my walk in the line toward the roller coaster. Our path, the line before us, can leave us feeling uncomfortable. We might decide it isn’t worth the wait and have to fight the desire to walk away.
The problem with walking away is that if we change our minds, we don’t get to go right back to the place we were on the path the Lord set before us. We have to start over. We go to the back of the line and the anticipation and the wait starts over, but when we return the wait could be even longer.
While we wait we get bored, restless, and frustrated. Then we see others receiving blessings before us when they didn’t put in the same amount of work as us. They make shortcuts of their own or cut the line and we contemplate doing the same thing. We think about taking life into our own hands and pushing forward on our timing instead of waiting for the Lord, and then the blessing becomes something made from human striving instead of from God. If we choose this path we’ve cheated the system and we feel it to our core.
The blessings the Lord has for us are so much more exciting than any roller coaster ride, yet we try to put a time limit on how long we’ll wait. If I’m willing to wait 3 hours to ride a roller coaster, then I have it within me to build the spiritual stamina to wait a day, a week, a month, even a lifetime, for whatever blessing from the Lord lays at the end of the line. How long will you wait on the Lord for a blessing?
As we wait on the Lord and feel the wave of emotions along the path of anticipation we need to remember to hold onto our hope, be patient in the rough spots, and continue to let the Lord lead us through the line as we reach up in persistent prayer.
“Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.” Romans 12:12