My youngest son John uses the train regularly, mainly to come home from school when he has attended after school activities, but also to go to and from Hereford to meet up with his friends. He has never had a problem with the trains until yesterday when he managed to get on the wrong train. It was a simple mistake. An earlier train was late and arrived at the time John expected his train to arrive. He didn’t hear any announcements and didn’t look at the monitor on the platform.
John knew something was wrong when the train sped through our station without stopping. He phoned his Mum, who was waiting in the station car park. Marilyn called me. I checked online and discovered that the train was not going to stop again until it reached Shrewsbury, forty miles from home. I found details of a train from Shrewsbury that John could catch and sent him instructions via text messages. Marilyn came home and we ate our dinner while monitoring John’s progress first to Shrewsbury, and then back towards home. John eventually arrived home in good humour, despite his two-hour, eighty-mile round trip into the next county!
Human beings are fallible. We make mistakes that have varying implications. The old saying about not crying over spilt milk is all very well for dealing with minor mishaps, but what about the larger ones? For instance, getting on the wrong train could involve more than being a couple of hours late home. What about the times when someone else’s error has caused us grief? Like when the other motorist is totally to blame for an accident? I have to admit that I don’t react too well in such circumstances. One of my better achievements was remaining calm when a hot breakfast was dropped onto my lap on a flight several years ago. The cabin crew could not understand why I did not explode in rage, which is what they expected given the mess the breakfast made of my suit.
How we react to situations and people is important, particularly if we are followers of Jesus. People notice when we are different. Jesus set many examples in the way that he dealt with challenges. He spent forty days in the desert dealing with temptation. Then there was the way He handled members of the religious establishment who regularly tried to catch Him out. He interacted with people from all strata of society from prostitutes to politicians. Even when under arrest on trumped up charges Jesus held it together. His act of witness in the way that He died resulted in a Roman centurion recognising Jesus as God.
Reacting well when life is going smoothly is easy. I am challenged by the way I react in the wrong train scenarios of life. Because it is then when those around me might just have the chance to see Jesus, if I allow Him to be visible in me.
For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:6-10 NLT)