... as the roller coaster cars slowly yet confidently ascend the hill before the first big drop. As my departure date for Thessaloniki draws closer, I'm realizing that much of what has been on my heart and mind resembles such a familiar childhood experience.
A majority of the time passed before taking your seat and getting safely buckled into any great amusement park thrill ride is spent in line... waiting. Though it's not the most appreciated aspect of theme parks, it's necessary if you ever want to experience any of the best rides worth waiting for. So you wait, because you've heard about the ride, you can see the ride before you, and though it can sometimes feel like an eternity (as the line twists, turns, and snakes down hallways and open rooms you didn't think could have possibly existed), you do eventually arrive at the platform gate.
After being secured safely into your seat, a flurry of thoughts can flood your mind as it slowly and deliberately pulls away from the platform. 'Oh man, what have I gotten myself into?' 'Why did I get on this ride?' 'This is really happening' 'There's no turning back now.' As the train of cars slowly ascend to the first big drop, following the initial stage of panic and confession of sin, things start to come into perspective.
As the train of cars makes it way higher and higher, you begin to see the surrounding land in a way you couldn't have before. You're eyes are opened to other rides, games, and entire sections of the park that you didn't know existed, all ordered in a way that you couldn't have seen from the ground.
Then you turn and notice the person in the seat next to you. You realize they're secured in the car right beside you. They've been with you the entire time that you've been waiting in line. They were with you in the car on the way to the park. They were even there when you decided to make the trip together. They were with you as the train left its platform through all your fear, doubting and second-guessing. They'll be with you in the drop. And they'll be with you when you walk off the ride together, with high-fives and excitement to share. What's really important and what really matters becomes much simpler.
You're not alone.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:19-20