Riding the Rails

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15 WEB)

 I never lived in a really big city. Some think that Cincinnati is a big city but nothing like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. Big cities have subways. Subways have always fascinated me. I find there is something about riding in a hole in the ground through endless tunnels that’s exciting. Cincinnati started a sub way system once but it was never finished. The tunnels poke out of the hills here and there but no trains run through the bowels of the earth filled with anxious commuters.

Once, Beth and I rode in a train across Florida. It was less than exciting. There were no bandits on horseback robbing the train. There wasn’t even a rush down some mountain tracks without brakes. Then again, Florida is rather flat and a little too east for western bandits.

It wasn’t until we moved to Europe that I was able to enjoy the full wonders of public transportation and especially riding in a train. To me there is something romantic, like a children’s story, about trains and riding the rails.

I once aspired to be a Hobo. I was young and it looked exciting to jump a moving train headed to some unknown place with no responsibilities, no money, and no future. As soon as I met a real Hobo and discovered it wasn’t exciting but filthy, smelly and dangerous, I decided I was better off riding trains as a rich or middle-class man. Besides, my parents told me not to play near the railroad tracks.

In Europe I never rode a train as a rich man, but I didn’t go as a Hobo either. I was one of millions of European passengers getting from one place to another. Taking the train was almost a daily event. My children rode a train to and from school every day. I was in train heaven.

Several times I traveled on an overnight train through the mountains to and from Monte Carlo, Monaco. It was fascinating. I slept in a small room. Rocking back and forth to the sway of the tracks was actually restful. Riding through village after village, along the Mediterranean Coast, watching the houses and fields rush by the window was fun.

The Wezel. Nice, quiet, comfortable.

The Wezel. Nice, quiet, comfortable.

It didn’t take long to discover train tracks do not go through the beauty spots of the city. In fact, most train tracks go through industrial areas. Many stations are underground, out of the way, and many stations are just a slab of concrete in the middle of nowhere.

One of the greatest joys was watching the people on the trains. I watched many people board and exit trains throughout Europe. Some were laughing, some serious but most looked lost. They knew where they were headed, what train to ride but their faces hinted at a lack of purpose.

Once in a while I would catch sight of someone with a smile of peace on their face. Occasionally I would talk with other riders of the rails. Those with peace in their faces were walking with Christ. The rest were avoiding God or thought He was some piece of crystal or a guru from a mountain top.

Beth was approached by a stranger on one train. The lady walked up and started a conversation. Eventually she asked if Beth was a Christian. When Beth said yes the lady replied, “I knew it, by the look on your face.”

What’s the look on our face? I must admit mine isn’t always beaming with the Glory and peace of God. Beth, on the other hand, is famous for her smile and beautiful face. When I stop thinking about my destination or which train to take my face changes its appearance.

We are called to be imitators of Christ. I don’t think Jesus would ride the rails with a lost or abandoned look on His face. When I set my eyes on the Lord, not myself, I too can ride the rails of life with a look of peace.

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