Growing up in small town, I remember carnivals being set up in the middle of the plaza in front of the old provincial capitol. They would only be there for a couple of weeks during summer and Christmas, and they would usually only have three major rides: the roller coaster, the octopus, and the ferris wheel. Of the three, the ferris wheel would always be my last option. It’s not just that it wasn’t my favorite, I simply didn’t like it.
As I recalled my traumatic first experience riding a ferris wheel, I recognized a deeper reason for my mild disdain on this innocent carnival ride. I realized that despite their similarity (both go up and down, both go round and round), I would rather ride the roller coaster twice than go through a round with the ferris wheel. Why so? Because it goes so much faster than the ferris wheel. And with speed comes exhilaration and excitement. The same preference applies in my life. I want it fun, and I want it fast. Life, however, has different seasons and sometimes the season is like a ferris wheel.
Slow and unexciting
For me, a ferris wheel season feels like this: the days are plain and routinary, and the breakthroughs are slow and far-off. Not exactly the kind of day that gets you up on your feet, right? But I realized that there are valuable lessons in a ferris wheel season. First is the lesson on faithfulness. Days that seem slow and unexciting can actually be opportunities to build faithfulness in us. On days like these, we deal with seemingly ordinary stuff such as school or work while doing the usual chores. It is on days like these that we can choose which habits we want to form in our life. It is also a crucial time where our choices and responses can shape our values and convictions. This is something I am reminded of when I read about the story of David as a young man. There he was, tending his father’s sheep day in and day out. Unexciting as it might be, he was faithful in fulfilling his task as a shepherd. And it was his faithfulness during this ferris wheel season of his life that helped prepare him as a victorious warrior over Goliath.
Seated and not in control
I don’t consider myself claustrophobic and acrophobic, but there’s something about being in that little seat up in the air that scares me. It’s wobbly and it’s cranky, and the only thing that I can hold on to is a tiny piece of metal. What if it suddenly stops? What if I get stuck? What if I fall? Valid concerns, yes. But if all I do while riding that ferris wheel is worry, then I’ll miss the view. This leads me to the second lesson in ferris wheel season: trust. Trust that the God who placed you in that season is the same God who can take you out of it. Easier said than done, I know, especially since we all have the tendency to take control so things will go our way. I learned that a good starting point is to remind myself that I am not in control of the time and the seasons, God is. And that is great news. Imagine riding the ferris wheel while trying to operate it, that will be crazy. Not only is it crazy, it’s also impossible. Controlling the ferris wheel is not our role. Our role is to trust God and enjoy the view.
So if I ever find myself in a ferris wheel season again, I hope and I pray that these lessons will stick with me—to choose faithfulness over complaints, to choose trust over worry.