07 February 2014

Funnel Cakes, The Sixth Sense, and a Life Lesson...for me at least!

So, in my teaching days, I would have various daily grades and quizzes that would vary what day of the week they were on.  Except 1.  Every Monday, we would do “Current Events.”  When I started teaching, it had to be an actual newspaper article taken from a hard copy newspaper.  The article had certain parameters it had to meet, and once a month, they could choose to do a sports article or perhaps a celebrity article…just to keep it fun.  They would then have to stand in front of the class and give a brief summary of the article and take 2 questions.  Often they didn’t have access to the answer, but it was fun to take part in this event every week.
Then…the internet.

Now instead of heading to the local hometown paper or the USA Today if they could con their parents into getting one on the way to school, there was every type of article imaginable.  The favorite of the students was when they could find “Off Beat News” articles.  This became a once a month allowable incident.  And I must admit…those were not only the student’s favorites, but mine as well. 

We live in an Off-Beat World, right?

One particular article has stuck with me for years because it is so counter-intuitive.  Whenever I share what this article mentioned, my audience is struck by the apparent twist it throws you.  I bet you will be too…except I warned you, so now you are expecting it. 

Like before the first time I saw ‘The Sixth Sense’ my buddy said “You ain’t gonna believe it.  What a twist!”  So, yes, I figured it out.  Would I have without my friend’s foreshadowing?  Probably not.  But it definitely made for a less enjoyable experience.  Thanks, William.

Anyway, the article had its takeoff in Atlanta at the ‘Six Flags Over Georgia’ amusement park.  I have spent many days there and love riding the massive roller coasters and watching the shows there.  Unfortunately, this article was not as fun-loving as my days spent there.
On a youth group trip to Six Flags with her church, a teen girl’s legs broke free from their restraints.  It was determined not intentional on her part, and, in fact she never knew anything was wrong because she wasn’t sure how her legs were supposed to be.  It’s not like she rode this rollercoaster everyday.

Let’s just say things went wrong.  Very wrong.  She lost her legs from the knees down in what had to be an absolutely horrific scene.

But that is not what caught my attention.  You hear about these mishaps at the huge amusement parks more frequently than we would like.  I have even had some of my Christian brethren try to tell me it is sinful to take such risks.  (If you want to discuss that, write your own blog.)
The young man, Justin, who was doing the story went on to give some statistics about these unfortunate events and their frequency.  And the last sentence of his recap was very puzzling.

Do you know those carnivals that come to town a couple times a year?  You know, they just pop up in some random field or parking lot without any fanfare whatsoever.  They have small rides, usually a ferris wheel, and one or two small coasters.  They are there for one week, then off they go to the next town. 
Or maybe you have been to a county or state fair which are somewhat larger and have bigger ferris wheels and a little bigger brand of rollercoaster.  And Funnel Cakes.  And Polish Sausages. And the best Caramel Apples.  (sorry)

When I go to these smaller parks, I may eat the food.  Play a couple games trying to win the stuffed animal that costs 1/3 of the price to play one game. And I miiiiiiiiiiiiight ride some small ride.
But you ain’t getting me on those Coasters!  No sirree.  They are smaller, they creak when you are on them, and I am not entirely sure they have a belt!  They go waaaay too fast for their size…I just don’t feel safe there.

However, take me to Six Flags, and I am on every coaster.  I will stand in line for 45 minutes to ride for 90 seconds.  What a thrill!  What a rush!
Back to Justin…he let us know that the % of death and injury at the larger amusement parks per rider is significantly higher than the little mom-and-pop, carnival and fair rides.  When he said that, I was the first one with my hand up to ask a question.

I think the eloquent way I worded my question was “Huh?!?!”
Upon further review, it is true.  I was trying to poke holes in it saying, “well, they have more people riding, there for more occurrences.”  Nope.  It was broken down by percentage and per rider. 

How can this be?  Why would the multi-million dollar monstrosities be LESS safe than the Coaster that moves from town to town to town?
And therein lies the answer.

I made up some weird assignment very quickly to keep the kiddos busy so I could continue reading this for myself.  When the guys at Joe’s Happy Time Carnival load up that roller coaster in Clanton, Alabama and move it overnight to Columbus, Mississippi, they are putting it all together again.  The rides/attractions are under constant care.  They know every missing O-Ring, every loose bolt, every slipped hinge and they have to fix it or they can’t open for business.  The apparatus is constantly being tended to. It is hard work for those guys to do this.  That is some heavy lifting going on right there!
At the larger behemoth parks, they were (at the time of the article…it may not be the same today) required to do a ‘sight inspection’ once a MONTH and a manual, hands-on inspection once every SIX MONTHS!  Uhhh….I am getting on some ride that is going to hurl me upside down at over 90 mph over a lake then into a horseshoe turn with enough G-Force to make my spleen hurt…and you haven’t checked this puppy out in possibly 5 months and 30 days? 

The Bible speaks to this…Not Roller Coaster Safety, but the dangers of not tending daily.

We are to seek Him every morning, at noon and evening.
We are to take up our cross daily.
We are to be in an attitude of prayer without ever stopping.
We are to put on our armor every day. 
The list goes on and on…

The practical ramifications of this roller coaster conundrum can be life changing.  Too often in my life I have found myself being moved to action for Christ, you know..every once in a while. 
I will study and meditate on God’s Word… when I feel like it.

I do a great job of speaking truth and love into the lives of my wife and children…when the mood strikes me.
I take practical steps to foster meaningful relationships with fellow believers…if I can find the time.

Much like those larger roller coasters are impressive to the eye, I have put more effort in building an impressive looking reputation among peers and those at church.
And much like those larger coasters, there is danger waiting.

Daily, intentional maintenance on our spiritual and family lives is vital.  It is easier to sit on the couch and check in once a month, or every six months….
Being what God wants us to be may be heavy lifting and hard at times, but it must be done often and is the way we must choose as followers of Christ.


  1. I totally needed to read this! Unfortunately I read this today and tomorrow I am going to Six Flags with my youth group (no joke)

    1. Miranda...well...did you make it out alive??? :)

      thanks for reading my blog!!!