From Wagon Wheels to Ferris Wheels

In our entertainment drenched, instant-everything world, we can so easily forget our roots and everything we have to be thankful for. The theme of this year’s Vermilion Fair, “From Wagon Wheels to Ferris Wheels,” reminds us of this. Consider what it was like one-hundred-plus years ago when our ancestors were settling in Vermilion.

The wagon wheel is not just a symbol of a horse drawn vehicle, but of a different way of life. This life, which we often romanticize as being simpler and happier, was, in fact, filled with great hardship and risk. Living with no running water, no gas furnaces for the winter, no hospitals, no dentists, no grocery stores, etc., people would spend ninety-percent of their time surviving, or preparing to survive, the harsh seasonal prairie winters. The wagon wheel is a symbol of that time.

We now live in a world of Ferris wheels and entertainment. In our Ferris wheel culture, we easily complain about our “first world problems” (our cell phones don’t keep their charge, our plane scheduled to take us to a tropical locale was late, our food at the restaurant wasn’t the right temperature, etc.), ignoring the fact that in our world’s economy we (all of us) are rich and have so much to be continually thankful for. The world of the entertainingly instantaneous can be intoxicatingly insidious. It can easily tempt us away from gratitude, driving us toward dissatisfaction leading to anxiety and worry. This reality is revealed in the Bible.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

According to the Bible, the way to deal with the regular anxiety that dwells in the dark shadow of Ferris wheel culture is by prayer and thanksgiving. Prayer puts our focus on God rather than on our fast moving world and thanksgiving adjusts the world into focus.

Ferris wheels can be challenging for people with motion sickness as it repeatedly goes up-and-down and around-and-around. In our fast-paced, entertainment-driven, and instant-focused Ferris wheel culture, we all suffer from motion sickness. The solution to both the physical and the cultural forms of motion sickness is remarkably similar.

The solution is to look at a fixed point and begin to orientate yourself around it; this is what the Bible is communicating in Philippines 4:6. As our world spins and anxiety grows, our hope is found in only one fixed point – Jesus. If we place our focus on Jesus through prayer with thanksgiving, we will experience peace, joy and contentment in the midst of the continual ups-and-downs of life.

As we continue the journey in our Ferris world culture, let up keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and be continually thankful. Let us combat dissatisfaction and discontentment with a thanksgiving and gratitude that is focused on Jesus. In so doing, let us enjoy the ride on life’s great Ferris wheel.

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