Full Steam Ahead
- October 1, 2021
- Posted by: Carolyn Mahal
- Category: Devotions
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. – Philippians 3:12-21
In my younger days, I had a summer job at the Saginaw Children’s’ Zoo as the train driver. The zoo has a train that runs on a 24″ gauge track that can accommodate about 30 – 40 passengers per trip. The half-mile train ride took the passengers all around the zoo. Passengers would see the different animal exhibits, travel over a bridge and dash through a dark tunnel with the whistle blaring all the way through it. It was really the best $0.75 you were going to spend while at the zoo. (Sorry, the prices have increased over the past 30 years.)
Driving the train wasn’t hard. There was a handle for accelerating forward and reverse and an air brake. Add to that a lever for the bell and another for the whistle and you pretty much had it down. The most difficult part about it was wearing the required uniform of a pair of unfashionable bib overall shorts. That said, there were a few challenges that had to be overcome from time to time.
First, the train could not move on the tracks if they were wet. Of course, this didn’t please the boss who didn’t want to lose the money, so if it was only sprinkling, I had to put sand down on the rails to help get the train up the inclines on the track. This worked well going up a hill, but not as well when coming down.
The other issue was rotting railroad ties. Over time, the wood rotted and grew soft, causing the rails to shift just enough for the train to derail. Many of the ties were 25-30 years old, so there was no shortage of rotten ties and derailments. Nobody ever got hurt, but fixing the rail, replacing the ties, and putting the train back on the track was a pain in the neck.
In some ways, our faith life parallels that railroad track. For starters, as Christians, God has placed us on the track which is our life. When we follow it as He laid it out, it has ups and downs, but it leads us as smoothly as possible to our heavenly destination. We may not always like the view, the speed, or the direction, but God has chosen this route for us according to His will for our lives. We can try to change course, but just like a train that leaves its tracks, the alternate path is rough, damaging, and leads nowhere.
Sometimes we find ourselves dealing with challenges. Satan and our sinful world try to prevent us from traveling down our path, like the rain on my track. It causes us to spin our wheels and not move forward in our spiritual growth. We all know people who are spinning their wheels. These are the people who get angry and fight over insignificant things, then hold grudges for decades to follow. They are the people who refuse to stand unified as a body of believers. These people are determined to go on their own strength and refuse to let the Word be their guide, or as Paul says in verse 19, “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.”
Others battle a feeling of hollowness from within, like the ties rotting beneath the track. The ties are designed to provide stability to the train. Over time they are unable to do so because they have simply battled the elements of the world for too long. We know people who have rotten ties; people whose lives are filled with chaos and turmoil. The aura of their complaining spirit lingers in the room long after they’ve left. They seek worldly solutions to spiritual problems and if they choose to seek God’s will when everything else has failed. These are people who have grown bitter. They are resentful, they feel alone and hopeless. If only they would seek Christ as Paul implores in Philippians 3:20-21 to; “…eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
What we are ultimately being called to do is to follow the path that God has laid out before us and under His guidance, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. (vs.13). When we live in the unity of the Word, we learn that there is no place for lingering hate and anger. When we live in the unity of the Word, we learn that we can be content with who we are today because our joy is not dependent upon the things of the world. Instead, it springs forth out of the seed planted in our hearts by the presence of Christ. Finally, when we live in the unity of the Word, we learn that we can press forward in faith, trusting God to fulfill every promise that He has made over us in all things. We know where we are going, and the destination is good.
And the best part: NO bib overall shorts!
Devotion by Richard Schumacher
LSEM Director of Programs & Services