It has happened again! Last night I received a call from our daughter who instead of heading back to Nottingham where she is based, found herself London bound. I would have thought such an error to be impossible given all the experience of travelling around the UK that Beth has accumulated over the last eighteen months. I would also have thought that the fact that Beth’s younger brother made an accidental eighty-mile two-hour detour by rail less than a fortnight earlier would have been fresh in her mind, and that caution would have been exercised when boarding trains. Alas no!

Beth and John waving at a train back in 2003. Little did they know that they would both one day board the wrong train!

Beth was on mission all last week working at schools in Lichfield with the Youth for Christ Nomad team. She then remained in the Lichfield area and spent the weekend as a leader at a residential event for girls aged 11-18. This is the second year Beth has been a leader at this event and somehow she spent most of the Saturday night talking with old friends instead of sleeping. The lack of sleep combined with the excitement that comes after a successful seven days deployed by God on mission was Beth’s excuse for not noticing that the train she had boarded was going the wrong way.

The first thing I noticed about the second recent wrong train experience in our family is that when something goes wrong the first thing our children do is phone home. While fully aware that it is their mistake and that they have to sort it out, they immediately seek help from their parents who they naturally expect to have more experience. They do not need criticism from us, only encouragement, support and guidance. We have all made mistakes and we will all continue to make mistakes of varying magnitudes and consequences. Getting things wrong is a very human trait. The challenge is not in the making of the mistake but in how we handle it (click here to read previous Wrong Train blog). It is also in who we turn to in each moment of need, and whether we learn from each mistake. While John and Beth both turned instinctively to their human parents, I would like to think that they also turned to God. I know that I was praying and Googling simultaneously as I tried to find how out they could best get where they needed to be.

Beth was a bit late arriving back in Nottingham last night, but she took it all in her stride. Having made it safely home, I hope that she took the opportunity to rest after a busy seven days devoted to serving God with children and young people in Lichfield. That’s another thing wrong train experiences have to teach us. There is always a time that we need to rest. God does not expect us to work 24/7, He expects us to rest, and He expects us to take time with Him to allow Him to recharge our batteries – as modelled by Jesus who never boarded the wrong train (or the then equivalent).

The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone.

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. (Mark 6:30-32, 45-46 NLT)