I married an amusement park enthusiast. He’s crazy, that man. He loves all rides that twist and turn, and his body seems to handle them with ease. Impressive, I tell ya. I, on the other hand, can barely survive a ride in the back seat of my minivan without getting car-sick. Make me read a map while I’m back there, and it’s all over for sure.
So we have this family tradition of attending our local fair every summer, and I have to admit that my adventurous spirit has been lacking most years. Just the thought of climbing the steps of the Tilt-O-Whirl about sends me over the edge. Lucky for me, for many years in a row, I’ve had a convenient excuse for letting my husband do the riding honors with our kids. Need someone to stay back with the baby and the stroller? Sure, I’d be happy to sacrifice for the family. Heh. Someone needs to take the pictures anyway, right?
My problem now is that my youngest is starting to ride rides. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Last summer all of a sudden my little excuse was dragging her daddy off to the toddler helicopters, and three excited boys were yelling my name to “Come on, Mom!” Oh dear. Can’t we all just ride the carousel together as a family?!
Somehow in the midst of sheer boy excitement (clearly before I could come to my senses!), I had reluctantly agreed to their request and found myself on this thing:
Somebody help me. Who knew my mouth was this big (don’t answer that)? And why is no one else screaming (for all I know the ride hadn’t even started yet – ha!)?! I told myself that I was pulling the natural “I’m here for ya, bud.” mom-move when I grabbed hold of the two boy legs seated beside me, but between you and me, I was desperately reaching out for a little comfort for myself. Haha.
But guess what? I survived the ride that day. And I not only survived it, I actually enjoyed it!! Turns out my thinking was all wrong. Not all rides are as crazy as they seem, and a little effort on my part sure did go a long way in encouraging my fun-loving boys. We all left the fair that day pretty pumped up that we had accomplished something together (“Can you believe Mom actually rode that thing??”), and even a little more connected than we were when we arrived. And it was worth every bit of the “sacrifice” it took to get me out of my comfort zone.
Now fair rides are not for everyone, that’s for sure. But connectedness in the body of Christ is. In case there’s any doubt, we’ve had repeated reminders about unity in the body since we started Ephesians (… anyone ever told you that if the Bible repeats something, it’s probably worth paying extra attention to??). And I have to wonder when we struggle with the unity that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4, if we’ve held on to some wrong thinking for far too long:
Have we hidden behind our own preferences instead of agreeing on truth (remember that much of what we get “stuck” on isn’t even biblical thinking!)?
Do we rely on the same convenient excuses year after year?
If we were willing to bend just a little on the negotiables, could God use us more effectively?
Could God be calling us to get out of our comfort zones in order to be an encouragement to someone in need?
Are we plain just letting fear get in the way?
Unity in our relationships is not always easy. In fact, let’s be honest… sometimes it is the last thing we want to do! But Paul is calling us to maturity. To focus on what really matters. To remember that we are all on level ground at the foot of the cross.
“…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
And here’s the amazing thing: when we finally let go of “our way” and submit to practicing unity the way God intended?
Is it time for you to let go of something that has hindered unity, so that you can start enjoying the ride?
At His feet,
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