You cannot imagine the excitement of an inner city kid, who’s single Mom just informed him of the incredible news that they would be going to the local amusement park in the morning. The place he hardly ever went to because African Americans weren’t allowed in the park unless they were employees or had a private party after hours. But now in the early seventies, times had changed. They could freely attend the park. There certainly would be no sleeping that night! Dreams filled with a kid’s imagination of all that would take place; mapping out in his mind the rides he would experience AND the rollercoasters he would ride…Oh, the rollercoasters!
I remember that feeling as if it were yesterday. We were finally going to Fairyland Park. The name certainly reflects days gone by ☺ . My Mom, was treating us kids to the park we often begged her about. My main reason for going was to ride one of the scariest wooden rollercoasters known to man…well at least to an 8 year old!
Morning finally dawned and we were up…waiting…anticipating…imagining. The laughter and chatter that took place on the way to the park was only a precursor to what awaited us. We pulled into the parking lot and all I could see was THE Rollercoaster, the WILDCAT! It was a lot taller than I had envisioned. All of a sudden we were transported into a different world. No longer in our small brick apartment on Prospect Ave; no longer worried about the responsibilities that an eight year old would have. Pure JOY.
As we stood in line to get on the Wildcat, we couldn’t help but talk about what we were going to experience. My brother that I had spent so much time fighting and arguing with, all of a sudden became a fellow thrill seeker. We had one thing that unified us that day, the ineffable excitement of this 1932 amusement park!
With our hearts pounding and eyes widened with terror, we were strapped into our seats. This wooden coaster got scarier and scarier with every click…click…click…click…click up to the top…and… AHHHHHHHHHH! Hands in the air…afro blowing back…tears flowing down…the coaster plummeted to the bottom of the “hill”. We were jerked from side to side, lifted out of our seats and elevated to more amusement, gladness, pleasure than we could have ever imagined. And just like that, it was over.
We exited the ride, stumbling from the disorientation that this thrill brought us. As if we had someone conducting us, we both said together, “Let’s do it again!” The Wildcat was beyond our wildest dreams. This park is forever etched in my mind. That day was a day we will never forget. On the way out of the park all we did was talked about and recounted the joy of our day. When we went to school, guess what the topic of conversation was…? THE WILDCAT…Fairyland Park…and the fact that we were going again.
Sometimes I think about how spontaneously joy is expressed when we are kids and how we lose that freedom the older we get. I think the problem is that we realize that the thrills of this world, no matter how great they are Do. Not. Last. Money, sex, children, careers, education, drugs, alcohol, romance, entertainment, popularity, notoriety, sports, all have a short “shelf life”. These things as wonderful or satisfying as they can be are only temporary and momentarily fulfilling.
These fleeting pleasures remind us that there is a Greater Pleasure, namely God Himself. Listen to the Psalmist as he expresses these very thoughts in Psalm 16, starting in verse 7:
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
The Psalmist knows that in this life there is one place that brings real satisfaction and that is in the presence of the LORD. Listen to his emotive words…glad…rejoices…fullness of joy…pleasures forevermore. Wow! This is more than a temporary rollercoaster ride, this is real JOY and HAPPINESS. It begins by surrounding yourself with the thoughts and reality of the Lord. Read the Psalm again. Filling your mind with Him, His goodness, and faithfulness. There is security and pleasure in His presence. Hanging out where God is brings joy, not just joy… but fulness or COMPLETE JOY. He alone can satisfy and bring pleasure, not temporarily but pleasures forevermore!
Just like my brother and I did during our whole rollercoaster experience; dream about the Lord; talk about Him; tell others about the thrill that He brings. Return to Him over and over and over again. May your heart pound and your eyes widen with joy and excitement and happiness that only God can bring! Meditate on this verse… “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fulness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore!”
Welcome to the ride of your life!