There is nothing quite like a 25 year old Tilt-a-Whirl being controlled by a 17-year-old Ukrainian boy named Yosyp at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Crawfish Festival. No one was in line so he just let that purple rust monster run on and on. I’m not sure how many G-forces were involved but I’m pretty sure that NASA would have been impressed with me and my sons as we shifted our weight from one side to the next and whipped that oversized metal football helmet around like a spin cycle.
It was fun until it wasn’t. Little man’s stomach was full of funnel cake and Tiger’s Blood snow cone syrup. He was maxed out. All the sudden little-man stopped having a good time. Middle-man and I could sense it. Little-man had this blank stare on his pale face- paler still in contrast to his Tiger’s Blood red lips. I tried to get the young Ukrainian’s attention. But he was too busy practicing his English by trying to read the tramp stamp of a walking Marlboro in a halter-top. “Tate, it’ll be ok,” I lied. At this point I was just trying to buy some time. “Yosyp is going to stop it soon,” trying to buy more time. And I’ll be darned if Yosyp didn’t know. Could he sense it? One does not leave the Ukraine to become a carny in America without being able to intuit such things. Not only that, Yosyp stopped our hurl-inducing bucket right by the exit gate. He had a gift.
We got farther than I thought we would before it happened. Little-man’s carnival food took a ride of it’s own. My teenage daughter had a gag reflex of her own and I thought it was about to become a family affair. Middle-man and I thought it was awesome that we rode so hard it made his little brother throw up. Little-man was not amused by our high-fives and cheering. My wife, the tireless nurturer, was the good parent- whispering gentle things like, “Spread your feet so it doesn’t splash on your shoes.” Then the seagulls came and began to eat what had not splashed on his shoes. At that, Little-man began to find the humor that his brother and I had already discovered. My daughter was nowhere to be found. She had emancipated herself from her embarrassing family.
The truth is that we rode too long. We pushed that Tilt-a-Whirl cart just a little too hard. At some point every good ride feels too short. But they’re not. The good rides are just the right length. Then they end. Then you stand in line and you go again. You live to ride another day. But Yosyp was content to let it whirl on. And we were content to whirl it. Machines may rage on. But 8-year-old tummies have their limits.
I sat with a man last week that shared with me that he’s had 3 weeks of vacation in the last 7 years. Round and round. The longer we do it the better we get at spinning it. But there is a limit. And at some point it’s not fun anymore. Our eyes stare blankly from the pale canvas of a sweaty face. And we hobble away. And we lose it. And seagulls come and eat it up. And some laugh. And some leave. And we’ll clean our shoes later.
We were made to need rest. We are finite. God made us this way- made us with limits- hard-wired into us the need to stop, to get off, and to stand still in the world that He keeps in motion quite apart from anything we may contribute. I see too many men enthralled with their turn on the ride to the point that they have ceased to enjoy it and have lost touch with the world that exists outside of it. They don’t know how to stop spinning.
In the Bible God’s designed rest is called Sabbath. God designed it to happen for one day of every week. It happens multiple times for weeks during the year. Every six years a big one happens. Every 49 years an even bigger one happens. Then Jesus came along and brought about access to a Sabbath rest that lasts all of eternity. To ignore this design is to deny who we really are- whose we really are. Not resting ruins a man every time.
Sure, we had one of the most epic Tilt-a-Whirl rides ever. But there was a whole festival we missed out on because Little-man puked in his Sperrys.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish…” -Hebrews 4:9-11