How do I escape my past?

For as long as I can remember, I have been scared of animatrons  (animatronics).  I hate animatrons.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I mean those robot-like animals and creatures, “advanced puppets”, if you will.  They were used more exclusively in 90’s movies than they are now (now CGI makes animatrons seem more real, or CGI can be used without any animatrons at all).  But you can still see animatrons in theme parks.

I have this crazy fear about animatrons.  [Automatonophobia, to be exact.  🙂 ]

I have a more ‘normal’ fear, too: the fear of heights.  I don’t mind, necessarily, being up high, but I have a fear of dropping.  I hate that roller coaster drop feeling.

So when I go to theme parks I tend to stay away from . . . basically everything besides the hot dogs and cotton candy . . . except, I don’t eat the hot dogs and cotton candy, either.

I don’t go to theme parks much.

Some years back, before I’d fully come to terms with all my phobias, my family went to Universal Studios in California.  I, for some reason, thought it would be neat for me to ride Jurassic Park: The Ride[1].

The first part of the ride was actually idyllic.  Although there were dinosaur animatrons, they were mostly far away, and they looked very much like vegetarians.  To reinforce this idea, there was lovely Jurassic Park[2] symphony music playing.  No problem.  I could handle this.

But then we for some reason our “boat” (coaster train) turned into the raptor area.  Now why did this happen?  I, for one, disagreed with our boat’s decision to go towards a foreboding looking warehouse.  I wanted to turn around and go back to the symphony music and vegetarians.

Instead, we slowly rafted towards this warehouse clearly plagued by raptors–the shrill ‘raptor’ scream all around us.   Electrical shortages flashed and a raptor chewed on a net.  A man (on a recording) was yelling warnings for us to get out of there.  This seemed like very wise advise to me, but there were no oars on our boat.

Sadly, sadly, very sadly, our boat decided to go inside the warehouse taken over by raptors.  Warning sirens were sounding, red lights were flashing, and I took it that somebody else agreed with me that this was a very bad decision.

Inside the building, all the lights went out.  I thought this was bad, until electrical bursts illuminated what appeared to be angry and very unfriendly raptors around us.  But the worst was yet to come.

Per an ominous growling noise, I looked up to see a tyrannosaurus above my head.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I do not like to see tyrannosauruses  (tyrannosauri?) above my head.  I do not like to see tyrannosauruses above my head at all.

Suddenly, there was this eerily calm voice that says, “. . . systems will terminate in 15 seconds . . 10, 9 . . .”

WAIT!  What happened to 15?  START AT 15!

“8, 7, 6,” the voice continues.

The counting is dwarfed by people screaming (on a recording) about a dinosaur.

“5, 4, 3 . . .”

About at 3 something begins to emerge from the waterfall straight ahead of us.

Yes, it’s a tyrannosaurus rex, and we’re headed straight for it.

Straight for it.

This tyrannosaurus was not up in the ceiling.  He was straight in our path.  His head, with his very sharp little teeth, was almost at eye-level with our raft.  I immediately recognized this was not a good thing.

Alas, where was the brontosaurus who went, “Mraaa, mraaa,” and ate leafy green vegetables?  Why couldn’t he have been waiting at the end of this awful warehouse?

The nearer we got to the tyrannosaurus, the more I saw how close his mouth was to us!

One thing became immediately clear: We were either going to run into the t-rex or we were going to have to drop straight down.

I hate drops.

I really, really hate drops.

But I was hoping we were gonna drop!

I ducked my head, screaming like a, well, like a girl.  I am proud to say I wasn’t the only one screaming.

The head was looming in front of us, waiting to consume us.

And then, in one instant, we dropped.

We didn’t start dropping.

We dropped.

Down, down, down 85-feet.

Away from the tyrannosaurus rex.

And back in the bright, bright, bright light of a California summer day.


Memories seems to me to be a lot like this ride.

When I think back over my life, I want to keep my train of thought on the scenic parts.  The lovely music.  The friendly dinosaurs.

But, more often than I would like, my train turns into the raptor area.  And suddenly I’m thinking about the bad things people have done to me.  The mean things.  The cruel things.  The things that electrocuted me.  The things that bit me and ripped off a hunk of me to take as a souvenir.

And then I look up and I see a tyrannosaurus rex on the ceiling.  All the horrible things I’ve done to other people.  The things I so badly wish I could take back.  The things I never want to replay.  The things I don’t want to be any part of me.

And it’s very black.  It’s very, very black.

Alarms start sounding, red lights start flashing, and I know I’m going into the most dangerous zone of all.

I’m headed right for the biggest enemy of my past.

The Accuser.

The Accuser stands in front of me with his arms held open wide, his claws extended, his teeth crunching in practice for my soul.  I look at the Accuser and I melt with fear.  I know I have nothing in me that can stand up to him.  All of his accusations are true.  My past is ruined.  I have failed.  I am no good.  I don’t deserve another chance.  I can’t hope for a change in plans.  I can’t go back.  I can’t make things right.

I duck and I scream as I am headed for the mouth of all despair, all doom, all grief, all gruesomeness.  I scream as I am headed for the mouth of a beast that knows only gnashing.

And then, suddenly, in a rush, Christ’s grace comes to me.  And I am scared.  I am so scared to take His grace.  I am so scared of the drop of uncertainty.  I am so scared of the plunge of faith.  I am so scared to let go of my past.  I am so scared Christ will not hold onto me.  I am so scared of what I don’t know.  I can’t see any way out.  I am totally trapped.

I gasp in His grace.

And it is freefall.

I don’t know where I’m going and I can barely imagine it could be good, so wild and fierce is my freefall.

I am dropping and the past spills out of my pockets.  I unfist my hands and let it go.  I open my mouth and it flees from me.

And suddenly there is light all around me.  And my train of thought is back on a track, a beautiful, beautiful track.

The track of Jesus Christ.

Jesus went through the scariest parts of my life before I was ever born.  He went into them, and He walked right up to Satan himself.  And Jesus Christ was torn apart for my past.

Upon coming back to life, He stood straight up at the very mouth of Satan himself, and Satan couldn’t do a thing about it.

Satan is scared of Jesus.

Satan is very scared of Jesus.

And Jesus Christ the carpenter built an escape route from the very mouth of Satan.  An escape route back to Heaven.

How do I escape my past?

I freefall in the grace of Jesus Christ.

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:13b-14, NLT)


[1] Jurassic Park: The Ride.  Universal Studios, Hollywood California.

[2] Jurassic Park. Universal Studios, directed by Steven Spielburg, 1993. Music by John Williams. Based on the book Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, 1990.

Photograph of arrows by Marc Falardeau, profile on

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

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