About five years ago my dad sent me an old Lionel train set. He lives out in California. Before receiving it in the mail, the last time I had seen this train was 1966 when I was four years old. I remember being with dad in the basement of our home when he would put all the track together, put the train on the track and run it around.
It has a car that tips out the logs. It has a passenger car that lights up, and you can see silhouettes of the passengers in the windows. My dad would put a little Sulphur pill in the smoke stack of the locomotive, and smoke would come out as it chugged around the track. It was a lot of fun. A year later my mom and dad divorced, he moved out to California, and along with him went the train.
The train was gone, but my love for trains remains. As an adult I got into model railroading, building an HO scale Christmas village complete with three running trains, houses, a downtown with streets and vehicles and people. There are mountains with Santa coming into town on his sleigh. Neon lights flash on many of the buildings. And at the grade crossings, as the train passes by, the signal lights flash and the bells go off: Ding, ding, ding. It’s still a lot of fun.
But it can also be “catastrophic.” Sometimes the train derails, and instead of just stopping, the train keeps chugging along with all the derailed cars zig-zagging behind off the track. They move houses, smash into cars, people get laid out in the streets like they’re dead, and trees cling to the derailed train cars and get dragged behind. There’s carnage everywhere by the time I get the train stopped. I don’t like it when that happens. It makes for a lot more work. But I put everything back together again, set the train back on the track, and move the throttle forward.
I’ve come to realize that sometimes life can be like that. No, there aren’t necessarily smashed cars or trees strewn all over the place, but sometimes my best plans get derailed. Things don’t go as I had hoped. That’s when I have to remember not to get bent out of shape. Those things happen. In those moments I have to get back on track, pursue my goal, and keep moving forward. The same is true for you. The Apostle Paul said something similar in Philippians 3:12-14, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on….”
Chugging along in life with you,