I love a good roller coaster!
by Leslie Cyr, Cadet –
I love a good roller coaster. It is thrilling, exhilarating, terrifying and even scary. But what makes it so much fun is that I know it is relatively safe. I’m pretty sure that if I get on a ride I will get off intact. Life is like a roller coaster; it is thrilling, exhilarating, terrifying and scary, but it is anything but safe. When we take this life and couple it with Christ, this roller coaster ride becomes altered by a new condition. The soul becomes safe.
I haven’t always felt so safe. You see my parents were both brought up in the church and understood the Christian message, but they were swept up in the popular belief of the 1970s that children should be allowed to find their own spiritual path. As I was growing up, my father’s life path led him into Middle Eastern philosophies, and he was eager to teach me his new beliefs. My personal universe worked for me for much of my life until one day I got a call from my stepsister. “Leslie, your dad is dead! My mom is dead! The house caught on fire in the middle of the night and they never woke up to know.” I cannot tell you how unnerving and bizarre such a phone call is. It completely rocked my world and shook the foundation beneath my feet. I was 23, and for the first time I became truly concerned with eternity and the soul.
At this point I did what was familiar to me, I went to a metaphysical bookstore and asked the store clerk the million-dollar question: “What happens to your soul when you die?” He directed me to a book that he thought was an authority on the subject of the soul. As I read this book, its contents seemed so strange to me that I looked at the footnotes and discovered its resources were all taken from 20th century authors whom I had never heard of. At that moment I believe the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, because it hit me that someone made this up! There was no ancient authority behind this book; someone, like myself, had been searching for the same answers as I and had developed a plan for their universe just as I had done.
It was at this point in my life that I began to listen to Christian radio. I was in my car for long stretches at a time, and I was fond of listening to the radio preachers and arguing with them. However, I couldn’t help but notice that they always quoted an authority that was above their own. This authority, the Bible, was one that I was not familiar with. I had heard of the Bible, I even had one, but I had never read a single word.
What impressed me the most were the personal testimonies. I would listen to how people’s lives were changed by coming to Jesus Christ, and it fostered a desire in me to have what they had found. They spoke of a relationship with Jesus and freedom from the guilt of their past. Could Jesus really be the answer I was looking for? I was taught that Jesus was a great prophet, a man who lived 2,000 years ago. To accept him as God was a stumbling block for me, but the Holy Spirit slowly softened my defenses. When I accepted Jesus into my heart at the age of 27, he came to me in a very real way and changed my life forever. I vowed at that moment that I would live for God even though I wasn’t sure what that would mean. I cast aside my former beliefs, and let God rebuild them anew according to the authority of the Bible. I cannot say what I used to believe; I am a new creation in Christ, and I wouldn’t live any other way.
I have served him faithfully ever since, and each ministering opportunity has taken me deeper in my walk and has strengthened my faith. I came to The Salvation Army as a natural progression in my desire to serve him. I love the mission and the doctrines of the Army and am anxious to get out to the field. But in the meantime, I am here at the College for Officer Training at Crestmont soaking in and learning all that I can.
Like that rollercoaster ride I spoke of earlier, a life without Jesus is scary and terrifying and anything but safe. The uncertainty can be overwhelming. As a believer in Christ I know that I am safe. I can ride this roller coaster called life and know that at the end I will step off and into the arms of my Heavenly Father, for my soul is safe in Christ.