I wonder how many times we catch ourselves or others travelling along blindly, not using the spiritual training we have received to discern the direction we are headed and adjust accordingly. We may be aware of the things that need to be done that day, but the bigger picture of our ultimate destination may be left behind as we pull out of the station morning by morning in the hopes that we will eventually arrive where we need to be.
Are we aware of important side trips where we may need to change trains and head in a new direction for a season? What about crossings where collisions with distinctively different trains of thought are possible? Are we keeping up with regular maintenance to ensure our responses to the bends along the way line up with the One who is the Way?
‘Lord, as we move out into the days you give us, encourage us to study the land of your leading where you have called us to be servant leaders who will head out each day on the rails of your will. Strengthen our zeal to lead the train of people entrusted to our care with vision, bringing each one of your precious cargo to places where you might train us in righteousness as we fall in line with you, the author and engineer of our faith. You are the one who leads us to our various destinations of service, and so we gladly let you pull the weight of caring for your children. But help us move in wisdom in the rhythm of your word and Spirit with a window seat of your glorious overall plan, fuelled by a divine love which never runs out. Amen.”
When the end of the line is in focus, we look forward as individuals and as a church from every place on earth to the time when we will finally arrive home, a chosen Bride with a long train of holiness to adorn the white linen of his righteousness given as gift to those being made ready for eternity with him.
But along the way, we sometimes lose sight of who and whose we are and go off track.
It might be an old way clashing with a new. It might be a bold adventure crashing with a few who wish to hold back from journeying into unknown territory. It might be too much perceived clickety clacking of louder worship songs instead of quiet ancient hymns belonging to the church for centuries. It might just be a few needing to let off steam for reasons they may not even know themselves … and things derail.
Sadly, train wrecks are all too common and can happen anytime.
Brakes of wisdom not applied to ungodly or destructive trains of thought; failure to thoroughly inspect combustable character flaws; hauling hidden yet highly flammable expectations, may each result in massive human explosions if left to run their course. It’s painful training to endure or witness less than focussed faith steering off course with cars of companions becoming unjoined and crashing into walls of division or over cliffs of disruptive decisions and broken relationships.
We may be attuned to the whistle of instruction from the Spirit, or be following the path of least resistance disconnected to the larger call when the trip takes an unexpected turn. In both faithfulness and failure, our own and others, we may be trapped in a major problem needing to offer servant leadership even though we ourselves may be bruised in the wreckage of cars which have fallen off track.
If you are in that place, feeling like a train wreck yourself, may the God of all comfort draw near you and wash you in his love …
No matter how these devastating messes come to manifest themselves, we do not want to rail against a brother or sister as smoke goes up from stacks of heated discourse, or seek recourse by racking up misuse of power, or conduct ourselves with less than the full measure of his love balanced by grace, truth and merciful justice.
Instead, with the prayer that all things be worked together for good, we station ourselves to receive healing discipline from the Father to cleanse and bandage our wounds desiring to follow the searchlight of truth upon the tracks ahead to see where we ourselves must turn to be aligned with him in this new stage of the journey. Apart from contemplating the nails which tied Jesus to the cross bars of our deserved destination by proxy, we are bound to miss the curve of correction which slowly completes the itinerary of grace which is leading us to be more like him as we purposefully make our way home.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
I love to stand near the sound of rushing metal and feel the vibrations in the soles of my feet, excited wonder settling into every part of my being as trains pass by in powerful determination to reach their destination. Nothing can stand in their way.
And nothing, not even the worst wreck imaginable, will stop the momentum of God’s sovereign presence and purpose passing through human history and open hearts with the goodness of his kind compassion towards us in Christ defeating all that trips us up.
Best for us to have our eyes wide open and fully on board with the grand story of his love giving direction every moment of every day.