Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Facing Your Fears
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened in September of 1979, and became the third member of the Disneyland “Mountain Range” (The Matterhorn and Space Mountain preceded it in 1959 and 1977 respectively, and Splash Mountain followed it in 1989).
Taking the place of the Nature’s Wonderland area, but paying tribute to it in multiple ways, this became one of the fastest rides in Disneyland at the time, and was proclaimed “the wildest ride in the wilderness!” by both the attraction poster and the “narrator” at the beginning of the attraction. It was also my first real roller coaster, and the beginning of facing my fear of them—a fear that dates back to when I was 8 years old or so (maybe younger) and was traumatized by a roller coaster at a county fair—another story for another time.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a perfect vehicle (so to speak) for facing your fears. From a pragmatic standpoint, it is a greater “starter coaster.” Taking a broader look, it seems built to remind guests that there are things it’s perfectly natural to be afraid of—and that fear can be overcome. Consider some of the visuals in the attraction:
- A runaway train hurtling through an abandoned mine.
- Mysterious glowing pools of water.
- A goat chewing a stick of dynamite.
- An earthquake (it’s often unnoticed, but that’s what you’re supposed to be experiencing on the third lift hill).
- A population that has plummeted from 2,015 to 38. Where did everybody go…and why?
- Dark tunnels.
- Entering a “blasting area” (the sign even says “Danger!”).
The storytelling elements tell us that this is a place to fear. Yet there is one thing that tells us we’ll be OK: the names of the trains themselves:
- U.B. Bold
- I.M. Brave
- U.R. Courageous
- U. R. Daring
- I.M. Fearless
- I.B. Hearty
The vehicle that carries you through the ride proclaims victory over the fearful elements that surround you.
Do you know what the most-often repeated command in the Bible is? “Don’t be afraid.” This command, or a variation of it, appears more than 100 times in the Bible. And this isn’t all front-loaded in the Old Testament. It’s Jesus’ most-repeated command, too—yes, even more than “love one another.” A quick search of BibleGateway shows the phrases “do not be afraid”, “don’t be afraid”, and “do not fear” a combined total of 103 times! Not all of them are commands, but most are.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31)
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Wherever you go in this life and whatever you do (or don’t do), you will encounter fear-inducing situations. In fact, you’re probably thinking of one right now. What does God say in those moments? “Don’t be afraid.” He is with you. He loves you. He will show Himself strong on your behalf….As long as you trust Him.
No matter how careful you try to be, how safe you try to play it, there will always be things to fear. Trying to avoid fear entirely is like trying to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad without actually getting on the ride. It doesn’t work—never has, never will.
Do you fear rejection by people? Trust His love.
Fear not, for He is with you.
Question: What have you avoided out of fear, but that is in the direction of the life God has for you? Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.