Five grueling days in the hot July sun, fending off carnival barkers while trying to keep down lunch.
We must have gone to the carnival at least five times - and each time reluctantly. But the kids begged and begged until they finally wore us down. So, why not? But then for some crazy reason I promised D, our twelve-year-old, that I would go with him on the Zipper. At least HE said I did.
The Zipper was one of my favorite rides back when we were kids marauding the Midway at the Minnesota Sate Fair every August. It's the ride where they strap you in a steel cage and then it flips you over and over as the whole thing loops around like a ferris wheel. It is extremely efficient at emptying your pockets of combs, loose change, and other assorted valuable items. Like car keys.
We discovered that the summer of my junior year in high school, a discovery my friends and I didn't make until 11:00 that night, as we all stood around Dad's station wagon in the muggy, dim yellow light of the fairgrounds parking lot. Of course by then we had blown all our money on foot long hot dogs and Tom Thumb donuts, so it was a small miracle when we were able to scrape together enough change for the hour bus ride home. And then, in Steve's parent's car, we made the two hour round trip from St. Paul to Lake Pulaski where the spare set of keys was with Dad and the rest of the family up at the summer cabin. Why we couldn't have waited until the next day to do all of this escapes me!
But anyway, I went on the Zipper with D yesterday afternoon, and for about three hours afterwards I wished I hadn't. Something must happen when you get old, because I used to be able to ride that ride all day. D kept begging me to go with him again. It was all I could do to keep from puking on him right then and there.
So today, the last day of the festival (finally!), was the Petunia Festival Parade, and being on the CASA board, I was sort of responsible for our volunteer group's entry.
I hate being in charge of things.
And this wasn't even a big deal. It wasn't like this was the Rose Bowl Parade or anything. All we were going to do was walk behind a banner with some red balloons. But this morning I am driving over to pick up the balloons and I just can't wait for the whole thing to be over.
What is the problem?!!
Well, it is that when I am in charge of things I immediately imagine every possible catastrophe - and fear worse the ones I can't imagine.
Twenty red, helium filled balloons were waiting for me at the Hallmark store and I immediately envisioned them somehow escaping from my hand the minute I stepped out the door and riding the winds to somewhere in the middle of Lake Michigan.
I am certain when I get to the parade staging area nobody is going to show up. Or the ones that do won't be able to find us because I gave them the wrong location. Someone will die from heat exhaustion...
Why do I do that?!
Why do I always expect the worst?
It really belies my profession as a Christian. What do I think, that God takes great delight in messing things up for his creatures, as if we are so many ants in an ant farm, and God is this mean spirited kid poking sticks inside, constantly collapsing our tunnels?
Is that how God wants us to experience life? Just one catastrophe after another? Is that what he had in mind when he created the world?
I don't think so.
And I as I thought about it, I asked myself this.
Instead of expecting the worst...
Why not expect something wonderful instead?
Expect something wonderful - and then look for it.
Because, the truth is, God is in charge here. He loves us. And this is a wonderful world he has made.
Of course, the problem is that while this world God created is wonderful, it isn't perfect. Not anymore anyway. We messed it up with sin (and continue to mess it up a little more everyday). So nothing ever is going to go exactly as planned. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Things will always go wrong. But still, God is our loving father, and even in the midst of those imperfections he can make wonderful things happen.
But if all I am looking for is disaster - that is all I am likely going to find. It seems to be the case that if I expect the worst, that is what I will get. Not because the good wasn't there, but because I just didn't let myself see it. What you are looking for in life is most often what you find... unless of course it is your car keys and you are late for a meeting.
So I thought about all that.
And I determined that from this moment on to let go of my fears, let go of my expectations of catastrophe, and start really trusting in my loving Father.
This is going to be a major change of attitude for me - and it isn't going to be easy. I have been looking for impending disaster for a long time. But today I am going to do this - I am going to trust in God.
Expect wonderful things.