Roller Coasters

Sometimes God asks us to step out of our comfort-zones. When we hear stories from others about their call from God, we think of going to Africa, living in poverty, or serving in an inner city. But that was not my case this year.
I have always hated going to the fair or a carnival or Six Flags. I hate rides. I get car-sick and feel gross the rest of the day. For people who have never had carsickness or morning-sickness, I will get no sympathy. But, it is a real sickness.
So, God in his good humor, decided that I should teach two senior adults to drive who have no driving experience. None. Not a little Cozy Coupe car as a kid, not a bicycle, not even riding in someone else’s car. It’s hard to describe what that lack of experience is like. Maybe someone who has never experienced even a tub of water and is suddenly thrown into a deep lake at age 65 for the first time would be an analogy. There are so many parts of driving that we think come naturally. They don’t! We learned them so long ago that we don’t remember learning them.
Stopping would appear to be a simple, natural skill. But, if we try to put into words the technique of braking without causing whiplash, words fail us. There is a subtle move just before making a complete stop where the foot on the pedal is lifted slightly. It seems counterintuitive to lift the foot, and drivers do not think about it. But, somewhere along the way we learned that the slight lifting keeps us from eating the steering wheel.
And, who knew that a driver needed to be told to use the brake to slow down, not just to stop? Wow, I passed through the flame but was not burned. Confusing brake and accelerator? I walked through that fire and was not scorched. Circling round and round parking lots with occasional stops for whiplash? I passed through those waters and they did not sweep over me. And when my students fearfully went to be examined and hit a post in parallel parking? God said, “Do not fear, you are mine.”
Prayer wagons circled across Facebook, in group texts, in churches, and friendships across the world. And today, one chick was able to fly the coop. Maybe another one next week. And then as a couple they will have independence to be able to spread the Good News of God’s love. Was the devil at work to stop these missionaries from spreading God’s love? Maybe.
I began to think of other areas outside my comfort zone that are right here in town, an opportunity for a new roller coaster ride. Visiting someone who is lonely? Helping someone learn to get online? Filling out a 1040EZ? Reading to a child or an Alzheimer’s patient? What else do I think is a natural, easy thing to do that might be overwhelming for someone else? Let’s start this new year looking for ways to serve our neighbors in a way that might not seem to be anything big, but is overwhelming to them or maybe a little uncomfortable for us. Being a servant could make a huge difference in their lives and in the world. Do not fear. God is with us.
Happy New Year!

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