As the car we were in climbed the steep rails ahead of us, the ever familiar ‘click, click, click’ that accompanies every roller coaster’s ascent slowed as we neared the top of the climb. I always associate that ever so brief moment of silence, when the coaster reaches the crest of the hill, as the calm before the storm. It is in that moment that we experience both the excitement of the adventure that lies ahead of us, and the indecisiveness in wondering if this is really what we should be doing. While I always enjoy thrill rides, little did we know what we were really in for this time.
The Primeval Whirl is quite different from the traditional roller coaster you may be envisioning. Instead of the coaster consisting of many cars latched together to form a train, passengers ride four people to individual cars as they travel independently along the tracks. It seems a well-designed rollercoaster always takes what is ordinary and seemingly mundane and adds a new element, or twist, to it in order to enhance the thrill the rider experiences. The twist in this ride is, and I do mean literal twist, that each car is free to rotate and spin as it travels the tracks providing a sense of unpredictability and adding upon the thrill that the ride offers. It could be compared to spinning around and around on the famous teacups as you travel along a humping, curving track. The end result being that of which riders one have no clue which way they will be spun next.
Each car seats four riders across, so we knew getting on the ride that we would be paired with another couple. The four riders in the car sit side by side, with two riders on the right side and two riders on the left side. As Michelle and I settled into our side of the car and secured the lap bar to hold us in; the other couple had a little more difficulty getting in. After a few moments of manipulating and twisting to get into their seat an attempt was made at securing their lap bar. The couple tried and tried to get the lap bar to fasten down over them, however their size did not allow for the bar to go low enough to secure itself into place. A ride attendant joined the couple in an effort to assist in the endeavor, and somehow after a few moments of repositioning she was able to get the lap bar low enough to secure itself into place. Away we went.
As we crested the hill during the initial ascent on the Primeval Whirl in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the prevailing thought in my mind was one of uncertainty. I was not experiencing any anxiety or fear over the ride itself, as I certainly have been on wilder rides than this. Rather the uneasiness I was feeling was in due to the unusual circumstances we experienced in boarding the ride. To be honest, we were terrified that the other couple’s lap bar was not going to hold since they had such difficulty locking it down.
The thought of passengers being flung from a rollercoaster may seem to be a morbid thought when embarking on such a ride, however to us the circumstance deemed it essential. While safety is first and foremost at any Disney property, the situation was unusual, and the thought of being on the next episode of Real TV zipped through our heads. Little did we know as we crested that hill it would not be the other couple that would suffer the blunt of the ride; rather it would be Michelle and I that were in store for quite a dizzying experience.
While our thoughts were stuck on wondering if the lap bar would hold or give way, we did not give a second thought to the lack of balance our particular car had. We paid little attention to the fact that our car had nearly three times as much weight on one side of the car than the other. As the calm ended, the storm began with the car wheeling down the rails. We very quickly began to realize the importance of balance, or lack thereof as we headed down the tracks. The first sharp turn we felt the un-proportionate weight and began to violently whip around the turns, sending our car into an uncontrollable spin. My thoughts quickly shifted from worrying about the other couple’s lap bar remaining secure to hoping that the Disney Imagineer’s had taken into consideration the plight we found ourselves in while they designed this particular ride. Again we were in no danger of derailing, but if you told us that, at that point in time, we wouldn’t have believed you!
What was to be a very entertaining and exciting ride, turned into a very tense ride. While our safety was never compromised (we liked to think), our mind sure argued otherwise. With each turn Michelle and I held on tighter, and we drew closer to re-acquainting ourselves with the lunch we had earlier in the day. With each spin I would slide across our small seat and slam into Michelle, only to have the same crushing blow returned by Michelle with the next turn. After what seemed to be an eternity we finally reached the end of the tracks. The only problem was that our car was so off balance that at the end it continued to spin…and spin, and spin, and spin. The momentum we carried around the track continued to wreak havoc after the car we were in stopped moving.
After a few moments of constant spinning we couldn’t help but begin to laugh hysterically at the situation. I can only imagine what others were thinking as they looked on at our car spinning at a nauseating rate. All we could do was laugh, and hold on until we lost momentum (and hopefully nothing more)! As we got off the ride and Michelle held her arm in pain from the growing bruise from whacking it against the hard shell of the car, I realized that balance is essential to success.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying:
“The most important human endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life.”
If our inner balance is our relationship with our Creator, our Savior, we must show morality in our actions; or in other words our actions must be in accord with the standards of our faith. Our morality brings beauty to our relationship with Christ, and a lack of morality is a lack of balance in our lives. If our actions do not reflect our ‘inner balance’ we are on track for one dizzying ride through life.
Being that our obedience is reflected in our actions, and our actions reveal our balance, I am fearful that there are many of us on the verge of losing that balance that is essential to living a fulfilling Christian life. It seems that the lines of morality in the 21st century have become so blurred that the differences between Christian and secular are becoming harder and harder to differentiate. We are becoming known less by our actions and more by our self proclaimed labels, whether that be t-shirts, bumper stickers, or just plain ‘religion’.
It is not enough for us to wear the billboard of Christianity if we are not living a life of morality; doing so is living a life that is out of balance.
1 John 1:9 (NIV) reads, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”
Ultimately an out of balance life will create a gap between God and us.
Paul addressed to the Colossian church in the book of Colossians the true source of Christian fulfillment and “balance”. Paul believed the trouble at the Colossian church was that they were being introduced to different philosophies; this was the issue which Paul addressed attempting to maintain balance in their lives.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 1and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We find our true balance in life in giving Christ complete Lordship over us…by not allowing the things of this life that we juggle to fill more space in our “car” that what he does. Our balance comes in letting “the word of Christ dwell in (us) richly…”, by setting our hearts and minds on things above. Submitting our lives, every area of our life, to Christ fully brings us into a world of balance, stability and control.
The unbalanced feeling of our roller coater ride, while thrilling, was also scary because it was not working as the designers of the ride intended it.
That is not a risk I really want to take with my life.