I'll never forget the day when I was a little boy when my Dad took me to Riverview, the big amusement park in Chicago. We had a ball until he insisted on taking me - against my serious objections - on "The Bobs." That was Riverview's biggest roller coaster. I had seen the people on the TV commercials screaming like death was near, but he persuaded me to go. And I was not a happy camper. Oh, I didn't scream, I didn't cry. I didn't do anything. I just froze. I gripped the safety bar, I stared straight ahead, I never blinked, I never spoke the entire ride. My Dad was frantically trying to get me to say something, but I just couldn't. It was a long time after before I ever rode a roller coaster again. I was so glad to get off!
A roller coaster ride that isn't much fun - that's how a lot of Jesus' followers feel about their Christian life. Maybe you've had your share of spiritual highs, and the view at the top is exciting. But you've also had the bottom drop out and plunge you down into the valley of spiritual mediocrity and defeat. And a whole lot of people are tired of this up-and-down faith. They're ready for something more consistent. They're ready to get off the Christian roller coaster.
Well, then consider the formula for consistent spiritual victory in our word for today from the Word of God. Now, in 1 Kings 20, the Aramean army had attacked Israel and had been routed, but immediately they began planning another assault the next year. 1 Kings 20:23 says, "The officials of the king of Aram advised him, 'Their gods are the gods of the hills. That is why they were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they.'"
Sure enough, the Aramean army came against Israel the following Spring, sure that the Jews had a God that was only good on the hills. Listen to what God's prophet tells the king of Israel: "This is what the Lord says, 'Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord.'" And sure enough, God proved to be the God of the valleys every bit as much as He was God of the hills.
Maybe the devil has looked at you and said, "She's got a God that only works for her during the high times." As long as you've had the "fix" of the latest retreat or concert or church meeting, oh yeah, you've stayed close to Jesus, you've walked the Jesus-way. But when the roller coaster of your feelings takes a plunge - as roller coasters do - so does your walk with Christ. You're hard to beat on the mountains, but you're all too beatable in the valleys.
But see, your God is God of the valleys, too. You just need to start anchoring your life to your unchanging relationship with Jesus instead of your ever-changing feelings. Spiritual consistency - the kind where you keep gaining ground instead of just gaining and losing the same ground over and over again - that kind of spiritual consistency is anchored first to this daily, non-negotiable time with Jesus in His Book. The fuel for your faith has to be a daily time in His Word, looking for a practical step of obedience for that 24 hours. Your life is days. Your relationship with Christ has to be anchored to a source that is daily, not occasional.
Spiritual consistency also means a fresh, daily surrender of your life and the things that really matter to you. An annual rededication or occasional spiritual rush will probably not give you lasting spiritual progress. Each new day you give you - and specific parts of your life - to Jesus.
And you have to learn the power of resisting the devil instead of just allowing him to manipulate you through your feelings. You say, "I know who this is, and I'm not falling for it!" Remember, if you "resist the devil," then "he will flee from you." (James 4:7)
If you'll make each new day a new beginning with Jesus, then you can quit trying to keep the last high alive. You've ridden this spiritual roller coaster long enough. Make this the day you get off the roller coaster, and the first day of a lifetime of days when you walk instead on solid ground.
To find out how you can begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please call: 1-888-NEED HIM.
"A Word With You" by Ron Hutchcraft is a daily radio challenge, with slice-of-life illustrations and insights - providing practical help on the issues that matter most. Six years of transcripts are available online:
I was setting up a large, cast aluminum, decorative sundial in my yard that I had purchased from a garden catalog.
A neighbor, an old Florida cracker, was leaning on the fence watching my progress and asked, "What the heck's that for?"
I explained, "It's a sun dial, see the sun will hit that small triangular spike and cast a shadow on the face of the sundial. Then, as the sun moves across the sky, the shadow also moves across the calibrated dial, enabling a person to determine the correct time."
My neighbor shook his head and muttered,. "Huh, what will they think of next?"