Scared? Here’s why you shouldn’t take the Chicken Exit.

July 10, 2017 | 26 comments

Our family visited an amusement park every summer when I was growing up. My favorite ride: a rollercoaster called the Tornado. Ironically, it was also the ride I dreaded the most.

When I stood in line with my dad, I lived in the tension of wanting to get on the ride, but fearing I would literally plummet to my death if I did. While inching forward in line, my stomach lurched. My breath came out in hot spurts.

When we reached the platform, I could see the sign that hung over a nearby doorway. It read simply, “Chicken Exit.” The Chicken Exit was an escape for anyone who decided, at the last minute, that they didn’t want to ride the Tornado after all. I almost always considered walking through the Chicken Exit, but I never once took the escape. I always got on the ride.

With Dad at my side, I felt brave. I’d step into the rollercoaster car. We’d click-click-click up the first hill, and then plunge straight to earth, before rocketing up another hill, and then another.

Dad and I would laugh through the whole ride. Sometimes I’d get brave enough to lift my hands into the air while the July sun beat down on us. When it was all over, I’d beg Dad to get back in the line again.

Now that I’m an adult, I see how life is a lot like waiting in line to ride the Tornado. We want to live life with adventure, but we feel the pull of the nearest Chicken Exit. Because we’re afraid.

Yet Scripture says God gives us strength for this adventure called life. Furthermore, God gives us the ability to laugh, even in the face of our fears. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” {Proverbs 31:25}.

she laughs without fear

I am not naturally brave. When I think about the future, I sometimes want to take the easy way out. Laugh at the future? Let me confess to you that, some days, you’re more likely to find me rocking back and forth in a corner.

But then I remember what I learned on those July afternoons with Dad at my side. If I took the Chicken Exit, I would have missed out on all the fun. I would have missed out on the adventure my father intended for me.

The same goes for you. As the week begins, your Heavenly Father is inviting you to take a seat next to Him. He won’t force you to get on the ride. He knows that you’ll be tempted to take the Chicken Exit. But if you step into the adventure, He’ll guarantee you the ride of your life. Together, you’ll laugh. You’ll marvel at the strength you didn’t know you had. You might just get brave enough to lift your hands in the air.

And then, don’t be surprised when you hear yourself say it out loud to your Heavenly Father: “Let’s do it again, Dad!”

Where do you need God to supernaturally clothe you with strength this week?


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Our featured writer this week is Michelle Bengtson. Friend, you are not a failure. But do you ever doubt that truth…? Do you need to hear what God says about you? Don’t miss Michelle’s encouragement for you today. Find Michelle here.

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by | July 10, 2017 | 26 comments


  1. Lynn Morrissey

    Love this Jennifer. Brings back so many memories of the Comet rollercoaster in St. Louis or the Bobsled (which literally jumped the walls of the ride, from side to side). I mustered up nerve for both… as a child. But the thrill of the ride (and my bravery) were long since gone with the wind (the tornado wind?) many years hence. . . . that is, until last March, when I felt the Lord calling me to travel to Europe alone to go on a women’s spiritual retreat to the remote Isle of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland. It’s nearly a wilderness with nothing between it and America, but miles upon miles of ocean. This was not just a sharing-and-journaling kind of spiritual retreat, but it required we be out in the elements, gale-force wind and rain, and hiking up slippery cliffs. I don’t know what got into me, but I said yes, and then I cried, “What on earth was I thinking?!” And then I pled with God (and my husband) to let me just stay home and pretend I’d never heard about this ridiculous pilgrimage. My husband would have let me stay behind (despite that he encouraged me strongly and repeatedly to go), but God would have none of it. It’s a very long story, but the upshot is that I went, fear and all. And God met me in powerful ways for the adventure of my life. He met me at the edge of the world, at the edge of my fear, in ways too wonderful, too powerful, too life-transforming to mention here. But just know how much I agree with you, and I thank you for encouraging us women to take risks. There is always a chicken exit, and there is always a way forward, head-first into fear. When you go with God, fear is transformed into a life-changing adventure. For the Christian, it really should be no other way.

    Love you, and thanks for sharing!

    • dukeslee

      I knew you had gone on the trip, Lynn, but I had no idea that you were required to be in those kinds of adventures. You have such a warrior spirit! Grateful for you, friend.

  2. Martha Orlando

    I have to admit, I’ve never, ever liked roller coasters; I wouldn’t even have gotten in line in the first place. LOL!
    But there are so many chicken exits in life, aren’t there? Let us all remember to hold our Father’s hand and declare, “Let’s do it again, Dad!”
    Blessings, Jennifer!

    • dukeslee

      I don’t know what gets in to me. I apparently have some sick desire to be scared out of my mind. 🙂 I was just on another roller coaster a couple of weeks ago!

  3. Michele Morin

    That breathless feeling, and then — the resolve. Yes, I’d rather feel this way and have God meet me in the midst of it, than to miss out on the opportunity that’s taking my breath away! I’ve never put this all into the context of a roller coaster, but what a perfect metaphor!

  4. Nancy Ruegg

    Strange how words about laughter, fun, and adventure would make me tear up. But it happened while reading the next to last paragraph, especially: “if you step into the adventure, He’ll guarantee you the ride of your life.” The tears came as I considered the adventures of being a mom, pastor’s wife and teacher, Amidst the challenges, there was also plenty of fun, laughter, and joy. Now, looking ahead into continued retirement (we’ve already been out of ministry/teaching for three years), I want to embrace whatever adventures God still has for us. He’s not finished with us yet! And that thought brings tears of appreciation for a God who never considers us washed out and used up.

    • dukeslee

      One of my favorite talks a few years ago at IF Gathering was from Liz Curtis Higgs. Are you familiar with her? She’s amazing. Here’s a bit of what she said to that audience:

      “I am 60 and I am silver and I am supersized and I am still a Jesus Girl.

      “I prayed, sitting way up there in the last row, ‘Lord, do I still have something to give?’ Because if I don’t have something to give, then you will be scared about getting older.”

      “I want to tell you, if you’re looking at 30 and you’re scared, you still got it. If you’re looking at 40 and you’re scared, you still got it. If you’re 50, 60, 70, 80, God still has something for you to do for the Kingdom.”

      Isn’t that awesome?

  5. Maree Dee

    My favorite line in your post was, “As the week begins, your Heavenly Father is inviting you to take a seat next to Him.” I hear him beckoning me to do just that.

    • dukeslee

      Enjoy the ride, Maree!

  6. Jerri Miller

    Love this story, Jennifer! I don’t think I’ll ever forget the phrase “Chicken Exit,” now! But you are so right, if you’d taken it, you’d have missed what your father planned for you. I don’t want to miss out on what my Father has planned, either. ~ Jerralea

    • dukeslee

      I don’t want to miss out either, Jerralea. I’m definitely preaching to myself with this post, because I’m so tempted to take the “Chicken Exit” in my regular life.

  7. Meghan Weyerbacher

    This is making me remember my days a preteen, experiencing the same gut feeling. I love how you wove into a spiritual lesson, friend. Wonderful.

    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Meghan. I was on another roller coaster a few weeks ago, and then sign at the top of the first hill is “The Point of No Return.” There’s probably another spiritual lesson there, eh? 😉

  8. Tara Ulrich

    Thank You! This is just what this girl needed to read!

    • dukeslee

      Glad the timing was right for you, Tara!

  9. Theresa Boedeker

    He doesn’t force us to get on the ride, but if we don’t get on the ride we will never be able to laugh without fear.

    • dukeslee

      So true! Thanks, Theresa.

  10. Susan

    I consider myself brave – but the Tornado? Not-so-much!!! How’s Dad, Jennifer? He is STILL brave, isn’t he? 😉

    • dukeslee

      Dad definitely is still brave! It’s been a long road, Susan. He’s not where he wants to be physically, but he and Mom have been such incredible troopers! Thanks for asking and for so faithfully praying.

  11. Barbara H.

    Yes, I’d probably take the Chicken Exit – if I had even gotten in line in the first place, lol. Or, if I had gotten to the ride, I’d probably be peeking out through my fingers. 🙂 I tend to want life to go smoothly with no hills or valleys, but there’s no growth that way, so I try to keep my eyes on Him and remember all the times before how He carried me and sustained me when He led me out of my comfort zone.

    • dukeslee

      I do take the Chicken Exit in other areas of my life, unfortunately, and am trying to be faithful and obedient when God calls me to do what feels scary. Thanks for being here, Barbara.

  12. Sue Donaldson

    wondering if it gets easier as we get older bec we’ve had a blast on most rides??

  13. Julie Loos

    Love this Jennifer! I was a brave child and would do most things. Now as an adult, fear wins out more than courage. I don’t want to miss out on what God has for me! Thanks for this reminder!



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