Do you remember your trips to amusement parks as a kid?  I remember them well.  It was always the hottest part of the summer, because we wanted to get in one last trip to Six Flags before school started.  There was always one particular roller coaster we wanted to ride, the wooden one that was rickety with lots of ups and downs, because it was the most thrilling.  And the craziest part of the whole experience was that we went knowing we’d have to stand in line…

in the heat

for a long time

getting sunburned

…but we did it.  Gladly, we stood there with our friends and chatted, rubbed on suntan lotion (or not, because we wanted that tan), drank water, and moved up toward the gate we entered to step into the car and go.

That ride then began and it started with this big incline.  We knew what was coming and we anticipated it with a gasp, holding on for dear life, as we topped the highest point of the coaster and swoosh! Down we went, as our stomachs lifted and so did our butts off our seats, only we were fastened securely for the shortest, most thrilling, ride of our life.  That ride lasted all of 3 minutes…after waiting for an hour or more in line.

We did this every summer, without hesitation, because it was “fun.”

I wouldn’t do that now, if you paid me.

However, I was thinking this week about the phrase “waiting in line.”  That’s how it feels as we approach our older years.  We lost two good friends in the past six weeks, friends that were our age.  It stung.  It shocked.  And it hurt.  I saw all of us just waiting in this long line for our turn to ride that coaster to the sky.  Only the wait in this line isn’t one of merriment or mirth, while I chat with my friends.  I’ve found it to be one of fear and trepidation, hoping it’s NOT my turn to ride that coaster…just yet. I’ve got lots of living to do.

Do you ever think that way? 

We’ve got grandkids to watch grow up, trips to take, life to live and give, and sunsets to enjoy.  We are in no way interested in being “next” to step into that car and that incline up to the highest point, even though it’s supposed to be the “thrill of a lifetime” to enter those pearly gates and see His face.

I was thinking about this as I went to bed last night, saddened by the news yesterday of another friend’s passing.  And we’re all in this waiting line, from the youngest to the eldest.  We know a little 3-year old girl that’s recently been diagnosed with cancer.  I have a 94-year old father whose time left in line is limited, for sure.  And here I stand waiting in line, somewhere between, or before…who knows?

I felt a bit of shame yesterday at my resistance and unwillingness to be excited while waiting, because after all…I’ll see the one that saved my soul, died for me, and sustained me and met all of my needs while here on this earth.  And yet, I don’t want to see him just yet.  Not today or tomorrow.  And maybe not even when I realize I’m taking my final breath. 

I know our Father understands these feelings and fears, and only He knows the time we have on this earth.  He told me to pray about everything, give thanks, and rejoice while I’m standing in line. Then peace that passes all understanding will be mine.  He offered me peace in the waiting.  Not hot-baking sun or exhaustion in the wait…but peace.

So here we all stand, waiting in line, and we have this choice.  We can recall those teen years and shake our heads at how dumb it seems now that we stood there and how scary it is now to stand here…or we can take him up on that offer to cast our cares on him and experience peace.

I really want peace in the waiting, and anticipation as I move further up the line.  Don’t you?  It’s because that ride, so I read, is the ride of all rides and the thrill of all thrills, whether or not we can see it now through the dark glass through which we peer…

Waiting in Line
by Marcy Lytle

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