Roller Coaster

“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals;”
‭‭Judges‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.”
‭‭Judges‬ ‭2:18-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Roller Coaster

There was a time when I liked riding roller coasters. I loved the thrill of gravity affecting my body, and how it made my brain feel. I remember the roller coaster at Riverview Park back in the day, that was so thrilling, not because it was sophisticated, with lots of twists and turns, but because it was so old. There was a sense that I was cheating death when I jumped out of it at the end.

In the life of the believer, there can be spiritual roller coasters, as one moves through peaks and valleys in devotion to the Lord Jesus. Early in my walk with Christ, I experienced the undulations of new found faith. While thrilling, at times, it was not the kind of excitement I really wanted. So many opportunities to witness of Jesus were lost, as I wallowed in the valleys.

The children of Israel in Judges chapter two, had forgotten the works of God, and all that He had done, as they went about doing evil in the sight of the Lord. They were filled with unbelief, and enthusiastically pursued other gods. God gave them over to their enemies, as He said He would, removing His protection.

In the trials that followed, they hit bottom and cried out to God. He being full of mercy, would raise up a judge to deliver them. Once liberated from the consequnces of sin, the wayward ones went right back to what they were doing once the judge was gone.

There are great lessons for New Testament believers, as the book of Judges is full of types and shadows of God’s truth. In my decades of following Christ, I have witnessed many a roller coaster rider, riding high at the peaks, seemingly growing and surrendered, only to dip into the valleys, crashing through the rails. In those down times, sin ensnares and the consequences multiply.

Like the children of Israel, those in the valley cry out to God for deliverance. These are the ones who show up in church periodically, broken and tearful. The make bold professions of coming change, but head back out once the bad feelings are gone.

There came a time when I stopped riding roller coasters, when I began to seek the Lord and surrender to Him all the secret sins. I began to face the person I truly was, confess my sins, and seek God. I did not just read the word, but I asked God to apply it to my heart. I began to learn in the valleys and found the consequences of my sin instructive.

“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:21-24‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I could see myself, devoid of the rationalization of my sin. I looked in mirror and could see the filth. Valleys were raised, and peaks were brought low as I sought to be a doer of the Word.

The children of Israel were bothered and enslaved by their enemies, as God allowed them to be tested. For those of us in Jesus, the enemy is sin. It is always waiting to sell us a ticket ride. Unfortunately, we are not told of the broken rails in the valley that bring nothing but pain and death.

Life in Christ is filled with peace, even in the most dire times. There is a steadiness, as struggles come and go, but we can stand as on the Rock of our salvation. We are in a time when we need to be focused on the Lord, and not focused on issues of this world, which only serve to distract. Much is hanging in the balance, as the temporal is yielding to the eternal.

The temptations are multiplying, as the evil one knows that his time is short. He is sending many distractions into the world to draw our attention away from Jesus. I have watched so many believers, drawn into politics, social justice, and even moral compromise, as they board the roller coaster. Meanwhile, many other people are dying and going to hell, having not heard the saving message of the Gospel.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
‭‭I Peter‬ ‭5:8-9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Much suffering is coming, and so will greater temptations. It is urgent for us to be about the business that we are called, and not waste time on thrill rides.

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