12th May

2020

CROSSING THE LINE #1

During the lockdown period I have been doing quite a lot of walking on public footpaths in our area. One of my favourite walks takes me along a footpath which, at one point, crosses the East Coast main railway line. This is the high-speed line between Edinburgh and London and at the point where the footpath crosses the line, trains are often travelling at speeds in excess of 100mph. If you’re walking the footpath you cannot just cross the line. You have to stop at the stile beside the line and use the courtesy phone to get permission from the signalman 10 miles up the line to cross. Over the past few weeks I have learned some important lessons I want to share with you.  Here’s one of them…

Faith versus sight

On a walk recently, I learnt an important lesson. As usual I phoned the signalman and he told me it was safe to proceed. So off I went across the stile and stepped on to the tracks. I then froze for an instant and took a double take. THERE WAS A TRAIN COMING!  Remember I said that trains pass this crossing at speeds over 100mph. I thought for an instant that the signalman had made a blunder and that I was soon going to be in a hundred pieces. Then I looked again. A train was indeed approaching but it was going very slowly and was in fact a goods train shunting into a siding a couple of hundred yards away from the crossing. The signalman had been correct. It was safe to cross, but for an instant I had a heart lurching moment of conflict between my faith in what he had said and what my sight told me. This is not a new lesson. As followers of Jesus Christ we need to learn this all the time. We are so prone to go on the basis of our understanding of things, our assessment of reality, our beliefs about the way things are or how they’re going to work out. In fact we are sometimes so convinced of the rightness of our view of reality that we’d rather believe a lie which confirms our view, than have our thinking remodelled by the truth. When it comes to the big things of life, our thinking needs to be shaped by what God has said in the Bible. If he says it’s safe to proceed then we know it is, no matter what we think ourselves or what others tell us. In other words, as the Apostle Paul put it: “We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV). Well, that’s the idea at least. It takes a lifetime to learn this lesson.