Summary: What enables faith to overcome fear? Grace!
Have you ever noticed how fearless kids are? They’ll do things that right-minded adults won’t even consider.
When I was a boy, one of our family traditions was to go to the Canadian National Exhibition. Summer wasn’t summer unless we made our annual pilgrimage to the CNE. This was back in the days before there was a Canada’s Wonderland and the Ex was the only game in town.
Every year the necessary traditions had to be observed. We had to have some cotton candy. We had to have lunch in the food building. We had to visit the horse building and play some of the midway games and try and win something some cheap prize before we went broke.
But, all of these activities were only the precursor to the REAL reason we went to the Ex, which was to go on the rides. The rides WERE the exhibition as far as I was concerned.
I remember when I finally was tall enough to go on the Flyer for the first time! For those of you who haven’t been to the Ex prior to 1991, the Flyer was the wooden roller coaster build in 1953. It was a wooden monstrosity that creaked and groaned and always made you wonder if they had remembered to do the safety check.
Now, in order to get on the Flyer, you had to stand beside a wooden boy who was 48 inches tall, and be at least as tall as he was. Every year I would stand beside that boy only to be mocked and rejected for yet another year. Then, when, I finally made it, I couldn’t believe it, I was about to become a man!
I got in the line with my brother and inched my way to the front. As I sat down on the seat and felt that steel bar click into place, years of anticipation coursed through my veins. Then, slowly, persistently, with jerky progression, we made our way up the first and highest hill. It seemed like it took ten minutes to get up all the way up to the top. Then all at once, time stopped as the chain that dragged the train up the hill let go and gravity hadn’t quite kicked in. At that moment I felt like a king overlooked my vast kingdom. To the south was Lake Ontario, to the north the rest of the midway, to the west, Exhibition stadium, to the east, the majestic Angels of Prince’s Gates.
Then, the moment of truth forcefully presented itself and gravity did it’s best to rearrange our lunches. Down, around and up we went, slamming from one side of the seat to the other. Everyone around us were screaming so loud that it almost drowned out the sound of the train as it clanked, scraped,
and slammed its’ way along the track.
By the time we hit the top of the third hill the train was careening so fast that we were literally lifted out of the seat! It was only my white knuckled hands and the bar across my legs, that held me in the train. Instantly I understood the height restriction and I was thankful to be spared from the terror all those years.
As the car finally came to a stop, my hands hurt from holding on so tight, and my eyes had momentarily forgotten how to blink. Then with all the strength I could muster, I asked my brother, “Can we do it again?”
The Flyer was demolished in 1991, no longer is there a wooden roller coaster at the CNE. Now you might think that I am saddened by this, but the fact of the matter is that even if the Flyer were still at the CNE I wouldn’t go on it. Why? Well I could say it’s because I know better. I know how old the coaster would be. I know how wood rots and how it warps and how bolts rust. But if I am honest, the truth is that somewhere between childhood and the murky part of middle age, I became a chicken. At least when it comes to paying money to cheat death! I don’t need to go on a ride anymore to feel like I cheated death. I am getting to the age that every morning I wake up, I feel like I have cheated death!
When we’re young, we take risks and we don’t consider the dangers because we feel indestructible. But, as we get older and wiser, we become more cautious, more sensible, and a little less willing to take unnecessary chances.
But a problem arises when the same progression happens to us spiritually. As we get older and wiser spiritually, we should actually become more daring because we better understand that “anything is possible with God.”(Mark 10:27). Unfortunately that isn’t always our spiritual progression is it? We don’t like to live by faith because living by sight is often so much easier!