One of the first thrills we experience as a child is being spun around as an extension of a loving parent or cousin with strong arms. We don’t even fear that person will lose their grip on us, we just enjoy the whirl. Those of us who were toddlers in the 70’s, remember the classic “Sit ‘n Spin” toy, which allowed us to sit down and control the spin ourselves. We could go fast or slow. And while Playskool labeled the box with a 42 lb weight restriction, everyone in their right mind still gave it a whirl way beyond that. The older you got, the easier it was to spin it so fast it reared up in the air until you fell over in a fit of laughter.
The most popular structure on the elementary playground, except for the swings which were always occupied, was the merry-go-round. At our school it was an ancient contraption with metal grip handles secured to a wooden platform encircled by a well-worn dirt trench that filled up with water after it rained and gave us more incentive to hang on. Usually the dare-devil boys pushed and then jumped on mid-spin.
It was a rite of passage, as a teenager, to experience the Rotor at the county fair or amusement parks. Some places still offer this ride, which is a giant rotating barrel that spins so fast that when the bottom floor drops down, the people stick to the walls because of crazy physics magic like inertia or centripetal force. It had soothing names like Barrel of Fun or Hell Hole.
As an adult I’m finding I don’t seek out the spinning motion so much anymore. The traffic roundabouts they are installing everywhere in the suburbs are enough for me. If I want to go around and around, I can just drive my car to one of these intersections they swear are more efficient, and drive in a circle until it flings me out. My sister had a similar experience on vacation and it took her four laps before she was able to take her exit, which her husband would lovingly and patiently point out each time they passed it. Impressively, my hubby is the king of roundabouts because he grew up in NJ, which is completely different. Drivers there are pretty assertive (also seemingly tense) so you learn to navigate or be eaten alive. It was there in a roundabout our children first learned about the hand gesture we call the “Jersey wave”.
Life might seem at times like we are driving on a roundabout with no good choices to exit. Or maybe life’s spinning out of control with the bottom about to drop out. While it’s a common reaction to shut our eyes when we get scared or dizzy, at least two places in scripture God opened people’s eyes to regain their balance. Hagar was crying when she and her son ran out of sustenance, and God opened her eyes so she could see a well of water. The solution was right before her very eyes. (Genesis 21:19)
The second reference is 2 Kings 6:17 “And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Sometimes the situation seems dire, but I pray we too, like Elisha’s companion, have our eyes opened so we may see the power God is giving us to fight the enemy.
Loss of control is fun as a toddler, frustrating as a teenager, appealing for college kids, and respectfully scary to a responsible adult. One of the biggest hurdles in a life is giving control to God, but it’s also the deepest peace amidst the whirling, knowing He is ultimately in control. He has strong arms and He won’t let go.
Janet Cowger- Fliegel