The Trains We Miss And The Trains We Catch

Today has been a day to remember what God has done this past year. A lot of it doesn’t make me happy, but I feel at peace about the delays, the reroutes, and all the time spent waiting for imaginary trains.

That’s what a lot of life is, you know–waiting for trains that we don’t know are coming, no matter how early we get to the station and how fastidiously we pack for the travels to come. And sometimes we spur of the moment take another train. We might end up in the rolling countryside or a bustling harbor or an empty parking lot. No matter what happens, we almost always talk as if we certainly know things that don’t end up coming true.

This sounds like bad news. But it can also be the best news. I know that I have had a hard time lately envisioning the next year. While others speak so surely of the impending improvements, I can only count how many potentials road blocks I might hit. I can only imagine a year just like the last. When I speak and plan, it all feels like a pipe dream. My expectation is the train I’m waiting for will never come.

So, the tables are turned. Though I used to assume I would jump on many trains that never came, now I feel like no matter how much I plan and dream, I will never jump on any train. Let alone a train I’d like to ride.

Now let’s take a break talking about trains and let’s talk about Peter. When Jesus was arrested and put on trial, he hovered about the premises. Three times he was asked if he knew Jesus. All three times he denied it. This was one of Jesus’ closest friends, who had recently just told Jesus that he would follow Him to death. However, circumstances changed. Jesus’ arrest was incredibly discouraging and anxiety-provoking for Peter, so much so that Peter didn’t feel safe or confident enough to own up to his friendship.

Because of trains that didn’t come–or unfulfilled expectations that Peter had about what life with Jesus was like–he lost the courage that he thought was impossible to lose. He lost a sense of expectation and exhilaration. And he was probably scared to death. If they would kill Jesus, who knows what they would do to him?

It seemed to be over. The station seemed to be closing. There was no coming back from this.

Except there was. Jesus rose again. Though they killed Him and crushed any earthly expectation of Him, He actually had a far better plan. And Peter got to see it all. He got to get on the best train ever–eternal life with Jesus.

Now this would never have happened if all the trains that Peter wanted to come had come. I believe we are in a similar situation. In this past year, we have lost so much we didn’t want to lose. Some of what we have lost was even objectively good. I’m sure Peter wanted awesome things to happen too. He definitely didn’t want to lose his friend, leader, and hope. It gave him deep doubts and sadness about the future.

But what has happened does not indicate what will happen. Only God can control the future. We have missed many trains this year (heck, I haven’t even been on a physical train since February 2020), but it doesn’t mean there will never be a good train again. It doesn’t mean things will never change. It doesn’t do anything to the fact that, like Peter, we have an opportunity to get on the best train ever–eternal life with Jesus.

Will you take the train with Him?

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

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