The thoughts of riding a roller coaster infect my whole body with heebee jeebies. I told my man a long time ago, “If you really love me, you’ll never ask me to ride a roller coaster.” For the most part, he’s complied with that request.
It’s not that I fear high places – I don’t. It’s not that I dread going extremely fast – car passengers can testify to that. It’s not even the extreme ups and downs that cause me to pause – though I do dislike losing my lunch. So, why do I fear roller coasters?
Give me a steering wheel and a gas pedal, and I think I might actually enjoy the rolling ride. Then, I could decide how high, how fast, and which curves to take. Yep! I think I would like that ride. I would like it very much.
Unfortunately, I’m tempted to approach my life’s journey much the same way. I think, “If I could just be in control, things would run so much smoother. I could climb as high as I wanted and take as many breaks as I needed along the way. I could run relationships at my speed, instead of impatiently waiting on folks to catch up or, worse, feeling like I’d been left in their dust. Sudden, but eagerly-anticipated highs and lows would not steal my breath.”
I wonder if thoughts of being in control entered Jesus’ mind when He knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane. Unlike me, He possessed control of everything. Before His trek to Gethsemane, Jesus told some Pharisees, “This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again.” John 10:17-18, CSB
Jesus knew all of history was really His story all along. He knew every twist and turn that brought Him to His moment of decision. He understood His timeline contained a very dark and painful tunnel through which God wanted Him to pass, and it was coming up fast. He was in complete control of His own life, and yet … He chose to give it up.
Jesus’ choice to surrender His life for yours and mine was made in Gethsemane. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve valued Gethsemane like I should. We look at the cross as the place of freedom and salvation, and rightfully so. However, if there had been no surrender in Gethsemane, there would have been no sacrifice. If Jesus had said, “My flesh is weak, so my spirit says, ‘no’”, there would have been no mock trial, no substitution made, no crucifixion, no utterance of “It is finished”, no death, no moment of darkness covering the earth, no earthquake, no splitting of the temple veil, no “Surely, this was the Son of God”, no burial, and no resurrection.
And you and I would be forever
separated from God.
So, do we choose to steer blindfolded, or do we give control to the One who sees what lies ahead? Can we let God handle our rate of speed as well as our highs and lows? Can we surrender our lives to Him?
Jesus modeled exactly how we initially come in contact with the blood of Jesus. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me – nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44, CSB)
Jesus was not buried alive, and neither are we. While He died physically before He was buried, our fleshly desires to plot our own course must die before we can be buried with Christ. Only then can Godly desires come alive. So, in a serious moment of prayer to the Father we, like Jesus, choose to let our own wills die so that God can have complete control. By choosing to let God remake us, we secure our places in eternity. Baptism helps us remember that our old lives are dead, our past is buried, and we’ve been made new. Choosing to surrender our daily, moment-by-moment choices to the One who’s truly in control, helps us become more and more like Jesus.
Here’s what I’m asking myself these days: Is my foot off of the gas? Are my hands off the wheel? Have I moved out of the driver’s seat? Am I finally out of control?
Lord, help us surrender our will for Yours and give You complete control. Give us new desires that honor you. Remind us of the joy we find in you when we travel by Your directions. Search us. Test us. See if there’s anything inside our hearts that doesn’t look like Jesus, and help us get rid of it. It’s not to us, Lord, but to Your name we give all praise! In the sweet name of Jesus, Amen