Locomotive trains are very powerful, can carry huge loads over immense distances, and travel with a tremendous amount of momentum…which means it takes a while to get them going and even longer to stop them. Everything goes smoothly as long as the machinery stays in good order, there’s plenty of fuel, and speed is controlled to keep the behemoths on the tracks. As long as things are going smoothly, they have an unrivaled capacity for transporting cargo and people, and can be operated to such precision that people used to set their clocks by them. When safety is violated, terrible things can happen.
“On December 18, 2017, Amtrak Cascades passenger train 501 derailed near DuPont, Washington, United States. It was the inaugural run on the Point Defiance Bypass, a new passenger rail route south of Tacoma, Washington. The bypass was intended to reduce congestion and separate passenger and freight traffic, and was designed for faster speeds and shorter travel times (saving ten minutes from Seattle to Portland) than the previous route used by Cascades. The lead locomotive and all twelve cars derailed while approaching a bridge over Interstate 5 (I-5). The trailing locomotive remained on the rails. A number of automobiles on southbound I-5 were crushed and three people on board the train died. The train derailed a short distance from where the new route merges with the previous route. Preliminary data from the data recorder showed that the train was traveling at 78 miles per hour (126 km/h), nearly 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) over the speed limit, when the incident happened.” (Wikipedia)
Our emotional & spiritual lives are like this. Have you ever crashed? Have you ever experienced the consequences of taking undue risks in circumstances that turned against you? Have you ever known you were moving too fast but were so overconfident that you ignored the warning signs that resulted in a crash?
As sons and daughters made in the image of Almighty God, we are incredibly powerful and capable; yet great care is required to keep us on the rails. Part of the trouble we experience in our generation is the fundamental polarizing arguments about what, exactly, constitutes “the rails.” Values, both internal and interactive, are the railroad ties, spikes, and the steel rails of our lives. There are a host of directions offered in this vast, diverse world we live in; and a seemingly endless number of exchange opportunities. Those of us who have committed to following Jesus’ straight-and-narrow path have believed that we can trust Him, no matter how alluring the alternatives, arduous the terrain, or distant the destination.
Part of staying-the-course is avoiding the constant temptations to change tracks…especially when we’re working hard to go up hills. There are always lots of opportunities during hard times to give-up and choose the easier paths. These temptations arise from our own desire for comfort, the misguided cheers of others, and from the enemy of our souls. The enemy’s desire is to “kill, steal, and destroy;” and he has a multitude of victims who have wandered far from The Way of Jesus. Temptations that get us most often come at times of weakness, capitalizing on lack of maintenance. The other dangers have to do with speed. In a culture where our worth is measured by accomplishments, activity, and possessions, we are prone to careening so quickly around the twists and turns of life that we risk crashing. The ever-increasing speed of “more” only leads to hardship unless it is governed-back into control by the Master. Have you ever gone off-the-rails? Have you ever wounded yourself or others so deeply that you wondered if God could possibly put you back together?
I have…and in those times I’ve found the heart of the Father, always ready to heal and repair and recommission; as if He was waiting there for me, knowing I was going to crash there in need of Him to set me back on track. Thankfully, we can never wander too far, or be wrecked to such an extent, that we cannot be put back together and placed back on the tracks that lead to Him. But make no mistake, there is one path that leads to Him, it’s the One that He prepared for thousands of years which culminated with the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus of Nazareth. Following in His steps, along the path of values and commitments that He has laid out for us, is HIS PATH. This is the path that leads to life.
I needed this reminder today…to surrender my desires, dreams, and destinations to the Father; knowing that when I do, His way always leads to life. Entrust yourself to Him today.
”Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
“Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Matthew 16:26)