Several years ago while preaching in Northern Kentucky our church planned an outing for the youth.   The destination was Paramount King’s Island in Cincinnati, Ohio.  This was an amusement park, complete with rides and entertainment for the whole family.   Soon after the announcement of the trip our young people began signing up for the day trip and reserving the date on their calendars. 


My dilemma came when I realized I did not have enough sponsors to help me supervise the young people on the trip.  I immediately turned to my friend and one of our deacons.   After a good amount of coercing, David agreed to tag along to help us sponsor the trip. 


You need to understand I love roller coasters.   There is something about facing your fear and then getting a thrill out of it that has me hooked.  To see me on a roller coaster now, you would be surprised to learn I did not ride my first rollercoaster until I was a senior in high school.   Before that time, fear kept me far from the action and would not even let me watch from a distance.  


My friend Wayne Wilson tricked me in high school and did not tell me we were on the “big one” until we were strapped in and pulling out of the station.   As we were going up the first hill, the chain pulling our car was clicking under us as we went higher and higher.   He tried to comfort me and told me when we started down the hill to scream my head off and I would not be a scared.   Sure enough, I was hoarse when I removed the bar to get off the giant coaster.  Yet, I had the time of my life.  Wayne and I spent the entire day riding one roller coaster after another.


I never wanted my children to grow up being afraid of amusement park rides like their father.   When they reached the required height to ride, I got them on one.   I passed on the same advice Wayne gave me, “When you start down the hill, scream your head off and you will not be so scared.”


People have offered me many suggestions over the years on how they minimize their fear as they zip down the first mammoth hill on a roller coaster.   Some say you hold your breath.   Others say you close your eyes.   Someone else even suggested you push your feet into the floor and wrap your arms around your security bar holding you in the ride.   Others use a combination of these things.  I am a screamer.


I was really getting excited about the church trip to King’s Island.  I was checking off the days on my datebook.   Each time I announced the approaching date to the church I could image the thrill of each ride.   I could hardly wait.


When the day arrived I was looking forward to systematically riding every roller coaster in the park.   Unknown to me, my friend David did not share my excitement.   I did not realized he was in his early thirties and never been on a roller coaster. 


After making sure all the kids were accounted for, and sending them off in pairs through the park, David and I had some free time to ourselves before the next appointed meeting time with the kids.  As we walked through the park I suggested one coaster after another and he declined each one.   I guess I made him feel guilty enough that soon he finally relented and he followed a few feet behind as I marched to the end of the coaster’s line.   In line we had a great view of the twist and turns the coaster would make on its journey.   Not only were there giant hills, but there were a couple of good sized twists and we would even go upside down as we traveled through one loop.   Sensing his hesitation, I desired to calm his anxiety.   As we waited our turn I encouraged him to keep the back of his head against the headrest because the rough ride would beat your skull against the padded bar coming over your head and chest.    In previous rides my ears would make suction on the padded bars and would “pop” as my head beat side to side, sounding like I was on a firing range with an automated weapon.  Oh, this was going to be fun.


Finally, we were the next cluster of riders to tackle the Vortex.   As the previous group exited to their right, we entered the car from the left.   We sat in the leather seats and my heart began to beat hard in my chest with anticipation.   The park staff ran up and down the train to make sure all was clear and all the passengers were seated.   With a quick thumbs up sign from the staff, the operator pushed a button and the loud shhhhhh came from under the car.  The bar lowered from over our head and stopped over our chest.  Again the staff ran up and down the train and pulled on the bars to confirm they were all secure.  


As we looked over to our right we could clearly see a maze of green and yellow pipe that lined out the track of the coaster.   I took a deep breath and felt a bit smothered because the bar against my chest did not allow me to fill my lungs completely.  Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump was the sound beating in my chest, echoing in my head, drowning out the sounds of the onlookers.   As the air breaks released, the sound of compressed air filled our ears and the train began to slowly move forward. 

As the coaster cars turned the first sharp curve it began to pick up speed.   As we begin the incline of the first hill we felt a jolt as the chain on the track picked up the car and begin to slowly move it up the steep track.   It rattled and clicked in rhythm as we made our way to the peak.  I was preparing to scream.  Curious as to how David was going to control his fear I loudly yelled out to be heard over the moving car, “Are you a screamer?”    He yelled back, “No, I’m a wetter.”    I don’t think I screamed once on this trip.  I was more afraid he was telling the truth then I was of the coaster.

        How do you handle fear?

        In today's world there are many problems that produce fear and guilt in the lives of people.  The resulting stress becomes at times, unbearable, and may ultimately lead to emotional breakdowns and physical problems.  The Creator of our bodies never intended for us to live under these kinds of problems.   This was not why we were created.

        Psalm 139:14 says, "For I am fearfully and wonderfully made".   The human body is an incredible thing and it is wonderfully made by an Almighty God.   We are a wonderfully complex structure, but not suited for the stresses to which we are subjected.    The body has marvelous recuperative powers, but undue and prolonged stress is harmful.   There are some situations we have little or no control over.  Other circumstances we can change.  The Bible provides a threefold formula to help us overcome the problems of life. 


Fear Not, But Trust


The following passages all speak to the child of God.  Like a father or mother that comforts their precious little one in a storm, our Heavenly Father promises to help us overcome our own fears.   In your devotional time take a closer look at Luke 12:32; Psalm 27:3, 48:14; Isaiah 41:10, 58:11; and Hebrews 13:5,6.


The reason the Christian does not need to fear is that God is sovereign and He is in control (1 Chronicles 29:11, 12; Psalm 10:16, 22:28, 24:1, 115:3; Isaiah 40:15-23).  This is a simple and reassuring fact and should come to our attention as we come face to face with our fears.   Therefore, we should trust our heavenly Father, which helps to alleviate any fear or apprehension.


The Apostle Paul points out to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind".   Clearly stated, fear does not come from God, it comes from Satan.   The devil often uses fear to neutralize our Christian living, and keep us down.  Paul reminds us that God has given us the spirit of power to live constructively, the spirit of love to live sacrificially, and a sound mind to live reasonably. 


The more we love and serve God the less fear we will experience in our lives.  1 John 4:18 states that perfect or mature love casts out fear.  When our love for Christ is being strengthened and matured, then fear decreases.

Fret Not

        Today, most fear in society comes because of evil and wickedness, and those who promote it.  Granted, this world is wicked and there are many that promote it.  Yet, God's Word tells us to not to fret because of these evildoers because we serve a more powerful God (Psalm 37:1,7; Proverbs 24:19). 

        It does good to remind ourselves that God is in control and He sees all the evil that is going on in the world.   Psalm 7:11 proclaims that God expresses His wrath to the wicked every day.  Then 1 Peter 3:12 reminds us that the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.  The Christian does not fret because they know God is on their side and He is faithful to His children.

Faint Not

        In moments of extreme fear we are tempted to throw our hands up and quit.  We come to believe that God will not step in and help us in our time of need.  Our problems begin to look bigger that our God and we fear and turn instead of face our fear.    This is why God encourages us over and over to faint not.   Galatians 6:9 persuades us not to grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.   Other passages speak to this concept too (2 Corinthians 4:16 and Isaiah 40:28, 31).

        On a roller coaster I am a screamer, but in my walk through this world of tension and scary moments I am a frightened child of God that finds security in the arms of his loving Father.   No reason to fret, but many reasons to trust Him and wait in His arms until the storm is over.

        The child of God does have a responsibility when they face a fear.  First, recall the greatness of your God.   He is bigger than the object of your fear.  Secondly, trust your Heavenly Father (Psalm 37:3; Proverbs 3:5, 6), and learn to cast your cares on Him" (I Peter 5:7).  Third, don’t be defeated by not following the pathway of righteousness.   This is not a time to fret or give up, but it is time to dig your heals in and follow God with stronger zeal. 

        These admonitions sound like a glib cure for a troubled heart facing a fearful experience.  Yet, they are God's principles and promises for today's stressful and complex living.   The Christian can bank on these promises.

My hope is built on nothing less,
   Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
   I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
   But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
   Support me in the whelming flood;
   When all around my soul gives way,
   He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ the solid rock I stand;
   All other ground is sinking sand,
   All other ground is sinking sand.[1]

[1] Edward Mote, The Solid Rock, ©1834 now Public Domain.