On Sunday, Joelle got to go to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to celebrate her birthday with her sisters. It was lots of fun and reminded me of this story from a few years ago -- something I learned about life and God at the Boardwalk one summer:
The creak of the ferris wheel called petulantly to the seagulls as we walked down the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Sweat trickled down my forehead to make a damp trail on the side of my face. I squinted into the hot California sun. Another 100 degree day in September. I still wasn’t used to it.
Earlier that day, Christy had turned up her innocent six-year-old face and pleaded to go to the Boardwalk. So, we forsook the comfort of air conditioning to brave the tortures of sun and surf.
The Boardwalk teemed with people in swimsuits and sunglasses. I squeezed Christy’s hand and brushed her hair back with my fingertips. She was as hot as I was. “Just a few more minutes,” I assured her, “and we’ll be there.”
Within moments, we reached the ride we had all been looking forward to – Logger’s Run. I shaded my eyes from the glare as I looked at the twisting trail of canals far above. With a shriek of pure joy, the kids in one of the plastic logs plummeted to the end of the ride. Splash! Sunlight danced off droplets of water like a thousand tiny diamonds.
I smiled. Christy would love this ride. The water, the logs, the bumping along in bright blue channels, the final plunge, the big splash . . . it was just the type of thrill that suited her.
“Here we are. The log ride,” I said. “Are you ready for some fun, Christy?”
To my surprise, she answered, “No!”
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“I don’t wanna go.” She crossed her arms and pushed out her lower lip.
“But this is the kind of ride you like the best.”
“I don’t wanna go.” She stomped her foot and gave me that “I need a spanking’ look.
“Fine,” I muttered. “we’ll sit here on the bench and wait while everyone else goes on the ride.”
She glared at me, walked over to the bench, and sat down.
What had gotten into her? The heat? The fear of something new? I watched the others get in line. It didn’t make sense. The ride would cool her down, and she knew that I would be right there with her if she became afraid. Besides that, it was fun!
I shook my head and let a frown creep over my face. We had come to the Boardwalk because Christy had asked. Now she sat on the bench, in the blistering sun, and refused to enjoy the best ride of all. It was crazy.
I opened my mouth to blast her with my opinion, but God stopped me. I looked down at her, her brow still furrowed in stubborn rejection.
Was Christy a bit too much like me? Did I sometimes make that same surly face to God? I remembered a gentle urging to talk to my neighbor about Jesus. I hadn’t done it. And last spring I thought I might start a new Bible study in my neighborhood. But the heat of life and the fear of the unknown had stopped me. Had I refused the best ride in my spiritual life?
God often asked me to plunge forward with what He wanted for me, to take a risk, to try something new with Him. But, my tendency was to hang back, to sit on the bench while others enjoyed the ride.
Perhaps the uncomfortable things that God was calling me to do would actually refresh me, and be a lot of fun besides. I knew, too, that God would be with me the entire time, right there holding me tight as I bumped along the channel of His will. What had I been missing by my reluctance to do something new and join Him on the “Logger’s Run” in my life?
“There they are.” Christy’s words startled me. Sure enough. The others had finished the ride. They came laughing down the steps, their shirts wet, their hair dripping.
“That was great!” Bryan strode over to us with a grim still spread across his face. “You guys should have come.”
I smiled up at him. Yes, we should have. And from now on, I would.
In the heat of everyday life, I couldn’t afford to miss any more log rides with God.
(I didn't have a log ride picture, so here's another - older girls on the ride, twins watching.)