I love roller coasters. I love life. Both make me anxious.
For some people, a roller coaster is analogous of life. It has thrills, curves, highs, lows. But, to me, it’s not a good representation because everyone on the roller coaster is going through the same hills, curves, highs and lows at the same time. In life, we are not all on the same path—and that is a good thing.
The picture at the top of the page is a colorful sine wave. It also has ups and downs, like life, but the peaks on one line often happen at the same time as troughs on another. C. S. Lewis used the analogy of peaks and troughs to illustrate this point.
In our spiritual lives, we tend to pray a lot more on the way down the hill and in the trough than we ever do when things are looking up. Maybe it’s human nature. When we are in a low point we are more open to God taking charge, but we are also more vulnerable to abandoning hope.
Have you ever been having a bad day, week, month, or year and wondered why others around you were doing well? Did you feel like you couldn’t catch a break? It’s a fair question and one everyone asks at some point. That’s when that little voice likes to whisper in your ear.
“He is doing well, but you’re not.”
“She got a new job, but you won’t.”
“It doesn’t get better for you.”
Those voices are untrue although they can be very convincing. You never know what other people are dealing with in their own lives and you shouldn’t assume things are really better for them or that they will remain that way. They’re on a wave too.
Last week, I talked to an old friend. I don’t know why, but friends tend to call me when they are driving. Honestly, I do the same to my friends. I don’t like talking on the phone but I find it easier to do it while driving because I can use bluetooth instead of holding a phone.
My friend went through a job change last year and he commented how hard it was, at 58, to find something new to do. Although I am younger, I can identify with the job change complaint. I changed jobs earlier this year and even though I had been preparing myself for the change I was still annoyed by the way some people behave.
I can also be a harsh self critic.
There are a lot of things I want to accomplish in my life and sometimes those goals feel far away. Few people really know my ambitions and dreams but, as I reflect on the past year of life, it’s nice to appreciate some of the good things that have happened. Sometimes, you have to look hard to find them.
In the past year, I have changed jobs (twice), taken on extra gig work, paid off some bills (and run a few others up), sat with my dad after unexpected heart surgery, watched two friends struggle for life in the same hospital and lost one of those friends. That’s just a nutshell compilation but I have heard that little voice at every turn telling me I was not a good person and how I would never accomplish anything worthwhile.
I have to laugh.
My goals are still mine. You see, there is another voice worth listening to.
A lot of people have life verses—scripture that inspires them. I have seen a lot of people pick Jeremiah 29:11 because it says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
It’s a great verse but, I wonder, how many people read the rest of the book? You see, the people in that book of the Bible had been sent into exile. Most of them were never going to see their homes again. Yet, they had a command placed upon them and a promise given to them.
Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
That was the command. Then came the promise.
When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
How does that relate to us today? Life is hard. Maybe you are not where you want to be in your personal life, spiritual life, or career. Do good anyway! When you only pray when things are bad, you risk being discouraged. When you only celebrate when times are good, you risk being ungrateful.
I’ve chosen a simple verse for my life. It’s not a recommendation for you. You pick your own. For me, Mark 11:22 is a good place to start.
And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.”