In life there are defining moments that leave everlasting imprints.
I recall one from my childhood that has both puzzled and inspired me often through the years . . .
Growing up in a small town meant nothing too exciting ever seemed to happen, but one day a carnival arrived, including amusement rides set up in the parking lot of our only shopping mall. Adding even more delight to this momentous occasion, my best friend Michelle's dad (our pastor) volunteered to take us both to the new McDonalds on the way. He was such a cool dad, he let us tweens sit alone and eat our happy meals unattended. We felt so mature . . . we declined the free toy in order to substantiate our grown-up status.
Crossing the parking lot, we soon were caught up in the energy of the fair, enjoying a few rides before finally ending up at the strawberry 'tilt-a-whirl'a knockoff version of the teacups from Disneyland. We hoped to get a berry cart to ourselves but alas, they invited two random strangers to board with us.
C'est sera, sera, (whatever will be, will be).
All four of us screamed and hollered as we pulled on the circular disc that controlled the spin of the cart.
And then it happened.
The life impacting moment.
My mature happy meal was not so happy with this ride. Or perhaps it just wanted to be more intimately involved in the moment. No matter, it was coming up to take a look for itself.
Oh how I begged it not to. How I prayed the ride would stop or that I could control the urge, but who was I to argue with an angry cheeseburger?
Finally releasing the contents of my stomach to the whirling universe, I closed my eyes tight to keep myself from the visual.
Round and round we spun . . . out and around it spewed.
As I prayed and sprayed, I could hear something.
A loud joyful something.
My pastor was laughing and praising God. I kid you not.
The ride finally stopped and I opened my eyes. Miraculously, Michelle and I were spotless. Not a drop of vomit had hit us. For a moment, I thought maybe it wasn't as bad as I imagined. And then I saw the poor young girl on the opposite side of the cart. She was covered. My passionate prayers had somewhat been answered, centrifugal forces had worked to our benefit . . . but clearly to her detriment.
I jumped off the ride and limped towards the laughing man of God.
At the time, I had no idea what was so funny, and even more puzzling was why on earth he had been praising the Lord throughout the horrific ordeal.
Thirty-eight years later, I have a better understanding.
When life's sickening moments hit, I recall that day and strive to praise God when it makes 'no sense' . . . in the natural sense. I've come to realize that is when our testimony is magnified, when we praise Him through the trials.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:4-6 (ESV)
In his commentary for this passage, David Guzik says,
Paul's joy wasn't based in a sunny optimism or positive mental attitude as much as it was the confidence that God was in control. It really was a joy in the Lord.
My pastor could not jump on the ride to save me, nor could he control the vomit flying through the air, but this one thing he could do, he could rejoice with thanksgiving to the One who was in control. To let those around him see his peace in the storm. I have no doubt he was praying earnestly for me and his daughter, but while doing so, he walked in the joy of the Lord and let his light shine.
All these years later, I have not forgotten that crazy day. The impact of my pastor's reaction has far outlasted the embarrassment I felt as a young tween. Here was a man who knew God. Who walked with Him and trusted in his control over things uncontrollablelike the shower of a half-digested lunch. Oh to be so close to the Lord to be able to laugh at life's foibles!
There are few people who truthfully walk this way; who absolutely naturally break into praise and laughter when hit with trials; Pastor Ron Dowbush and Chuck Smith are two who come to mind. I wish I could testify that I too had this natural default; I'm praying and growing . . . it's a journey.
As I study the Word, searching for glimpses of God, I am transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Seeing His character, I am learning to let go and to trust him more. He is worthy to be praisedsometimes even with laughterthrough the storms of life. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand . . . even on the Tilt-A-Whirls of life.
Wife, mother & servant of Christ
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