Saturday, May 12, 2012
Missing the Colossus!
Today I was driving north on the 5 freeway, just north of Los Angeles. As I neared Santa Clarita, traffic began to slow dramatically. I noticed the next exit was backed up and so I moved one lane closer to the fast lane. As I merged into my new lane, I looked out at the people in the car on my right. They were pointing eagerly out the window and over my car. The car was packed and every mouth open in the shape of an "ooh!" or an "aah!" The teenage girl in the backseat appeared to be about to burst with excitement as she pointed eagerly out the window to somewhere over my car and beyond. What in the world were they so excited about? I looked out my driver's side window. Nothing. Just a lane of fast moving cars. I looked to the soutbound lanes - was there an accident? A jackknifed big rig? Nope. I cranked my head over toward my window and tried to look up. Maybe a plane was coming in low, too low, for LAX about 35 miles away? Was there a police helicopter? UFO? Negative. I focused back on the road. What had I missed?
About a half mile down the road, I figured it out. Looming large to my right was something I saw everyday. In fact I saw it so much, I didn't even see it any more.
Six Flags Magic Mountain.
One of the biggest amusement parks in the world.
Home of the Viper, Superman, Batman and of course, the world famous white, wooden roller coaster, The Collosus.
The family I saw in the car, was just about to exit and head to the park. They were pointing at the twisting orange and green rails that looped and dropped hundreds of feet in the air, the large red "skyneedle" in the middle of the park, and of course, the looming white wooden lattice work that was the ominous frame of the oldest coaster in the park (and still one of the best.)
They were thrilled!
I was indifferent.
I drive by Magic Mountain several times a week. I have been there more times than I can count with friends, family and packs of kids from local camps. As a kid myself, I came several times with busloads of other youth from my church. Then again as a senior in high school, all the way from Northern California; it was our first stop before Venice Beach the next day and then finally Grad Night at Disneyland just down the road. Magic Moutain was always such a thrill! The names of the rides describe them perfectly - The Revolution, Drop-Off, The Log Jammer. I always loved the scariest ones. If you're coming from the south, you have to pass the park before you can exit. This just adds to the drama. The anticipation builds. The whole place looms out your window like a gothic city of frightful fun. The butterflies start. Look! There it is! Magic Moutain!
Once, I couldn't take my eyes off you. Today, I don't even notice you.
Reminds me of what happens to the Gospel.
I grew up in Christian home and with the exception of a few years of being home schooled and a few years in college, spent my entire youth in Christian schools. I went to church 3 times a week. My parents read the Bible at home. I said my prayers, memorized verses and earned "Pioneer Girl" patches at church for being helpful and kind to animals, my parents, seniors. In all of this religious rigor, I heard the gospel a million times.
He came, he died, he rose again.
He died for my sins.
He sent his only Son.
By His wounds we are healed.
How many times I heard these words! Easter, Christmas and all points in between I heard them preached, read, spoken and sang.
I recently heard a preacher say, "God help us if we ever get to the point where we hear the Gospel message and are not moved."
God help me.
God move me.
I can't say I'm not moved by the Gospel, just maybe not as much as I wish I were. Most times, my reaction is closer to jaded than jubilant if I'm honest.
On Good Friday, I watched the movie "The Passion of the Christ." I hadn't seen it in years, in fact I hadn't seen any movie about Jesus in years, so I was curious how I would respond.
I was devastated by it.
When the Roman soldiers whipped Jesus, I winced with every blow. After awhile, I couldn't watch. I just held my head and cried as they beat him mercilessly over and over and over. Then they spit on him. I reeled. How dare you spit in the face of God? I wanted to reach out and wipe the spit off Jesus' face. Then, I bawled when Peter denied him three times, yelling in fear "I don't know him! Leave me alone! I don't know him!" I wiped my face as the tears rolled. That is me! I did that! For ten years I wanted nothing to do with you! I betrayed you Lord! How could I? I felt so guilty I was physically sick.
I knew then, my eyes were still sensitive enough to see what Jesus did and to be amazed, even blinded by his love. I was moved. My heart wasn't hardened. Jesus's love was not just a hackneyed story of my youth; something played out on flannel graph in Sunday School or acted out by the church choir one week before Easter. The Gospel message still penetrates my heart and ignites my soul! The flame is not out. It flickers. Sometimes it even flares up! Yes, I still have passion for the PASSION!
So, Magic Mountain may have lost its appeal. I can speed right on by it and not feel the slightest urge to point, gasp or gape. I'll leave that to the tourists. But the mountainous magic and wonder of God's love as displayed by Jesus on the cross at Calvary?
I might miss the Colossus, but God help me if I miss the colossal love of the cross!