Thursday, January 27, 2022

Stop the merry go round! I want to get off!

When I was growing up, we'd often visit neighborhood playgrounds. The playground equipment provided hours of free fun and entertainment for my siblings and I. The equipment was simple back in the late 50s and early 60s - swings, slides, and merry go rounds. Though nothing fancy, those shiny metal structures brought a lot of joy and a few tears. 

Of the three, I'd have to say the swings were my favorite. I loved being able to propel myself higher and higher with a few strong pumps of my little legs. As the wind whipped through my hair, I'd grip the chain links tightly and smile with glee. 

The slide was fun, too, except on hot, summer days when my bare legs would stick to the hot surface and burn. What a rush to stand on the top rung of the ladder and prepare for the slippery ride down! But for me, it was over too fast and the process of going back around to climb the ladder again for a few short seconds of fun wasn't worth it. 

I also liked the merry go round. My brother, sister, and I would take turns being the pusher. The pusher would grab hold of the metal bar and run alongside the merry go round while attempting to gain enough momentum to propel the weight of the riders. Usually, the pusher only had to work a short period and the merry go round would spin for a few revolutions before another push was needed, but sometimes, depending on the weight of the riders and the strength of the pusher, it could be more challenging. Being a rider was more fun than being a pusher. The rider would sit cross legged on the cold, metal of the merry go round and wait for the spinning to begin. When the merry go round was in full operation, the rider would sit and watch as the scenery passed quickly by. Sometimes, the rider would feel nauseous and dizzy, but more often than not, we'd continue to ride counting it part of the joy, but when an older and much stronger pusher took control, the merry go round could spin too fast and frighten the riders into screaming, "Stop the merry go round! I want to get off!!!" There was a time or two I was the screamer. Most of the time, the pusher would honor the rider's request, but on rare occasions, with a sadistic, non-family member pushing, the merry go round would not be stopped until a parent intervened. 

Today's world seems like a perpetual merry go round. It seems to be going faster and faster minute by minute. Everything seems to be out of control as if an invisible, malevolent hand is pushing harder and faster. And though we cry, "Stop! We want to get off!" the pusher isn't listening. He's laughing with unrestrained hilarity. 

Our feeble attempts to stop the madness aren't working. We're growing dizzier by the minute. Some of us have become physically ill while others of us have become emotionally distraught. There must be a solution! 

And there is. 

Remember how we used to forcibly stop the merry go round from spinning when we wanted to get off? We'd stick out a leg and touch the ground applying more and more pressure creating drag until the equipment slowed enough for the rider to jump off. It was a simple yet effective way to end the ride. Sometimes it took patience for the merry go round to lose momentum, but eventually it did. We can't apply the same technique to today's issues, can we? But we can do one thing - one simple thing the Bible tells us to do. 

In Psalm 46, verse 10, we're told to "Be still and know that I am God." Be still in this fast paced, crazy, out of control world? Why, yes! That's the key. 

When nothing seems to be going right, when everything seems to be spinning out of control, we can choose to stop, find a quiet place, and be still before the Lord. It takes a lot of will power and determination to cease striving in this dog-eat-dog world, but it is doable. And it is beneficial to our well-being. 

In the quiet, we find peace. God wants us to remember, even when things seem haywire, He's still in control. 

Psalm 62:1-2 says, "I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken." When we are still, we gain new perspective. If it weren't important for us to do on a daily basis, why would God command us to be still in the first place? He doesn't want us to be in constant motion. He doesn't want us to just slow down either. He wants us to come to a complete stop. Be still. Find Rest. Trust. Don't you just love that? I do.

© Bonnie Annis 2022 

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