1. Waiting for the Train

(The Assurance of Salvation and What We Are to Do About it)

I approached the platform outside of the train station and was surprised there was no one waiting for a train.  

As I stood on the platform looking in both directions to see if a train was coming, the station master approached and said, “Need any help?”

“I’m waiting for a train,” I replied.  “Can you tell me when the next one is due to arrive?”

“Depends on where you are headed,” was his reply.

“This is what I have,” I said as I showed him my ticket.  “I think it’s good for a one-way trip to Glory.  I can’t read the date as it is kind of blotted out with something that looks like blood.”

“Where did you get this?” The station master asked, and then added, “Do you know what it means?” 

“I got it from a fellow who was on a corner downtown, a fellow who was talking about Glory and giving out tickets.”

“I know him,” the station master replied.  “He’s a good one!”

The station master then asked, “How much did you pay for your ticket?”

“I didn’t pay anything; the fellow gave it to me,” I replied and then asked, “should I have paid something for it?”

“No, it’s good just as it is. You didn’t need to pay anything for it,” the station master replied.  “In fact,” he added, “that’s the only way it works.  It is a free gift and has to be accepted on its terms.  Someone else paid the full price for it so it is free to all who accept it.”

Continuing, he said, “You’d be surprised how many people show up here with a ticket they say they bought.  There’s a lot of shock and sadness when I have to tell them that their ticket is not good.  But that is another story for another day.”

The station master then asked, “Do you think you can just come to the station and get on any train you want, whenever you want?”

“Well, I’m not sure, and now it doesn’t seem like it, but I’m real tired of where I am and I’m anxious to leave.  The fellow who gave me the ticket made Glory sound so good, I want to get there as soon as I can.”

“That’s not how the ticket works,” the station master replied.  “Do you see any people just standing around waiting for a train?”

“No, I don’t;  is that unusual?”

“No, that’s part of how the ticket works,” was his response.

I then asked, “Can you tell me more about the train to Glory and what the ticket means?  I am sort of confused.  Is the ticket any good?  Do I need a reservation?”

The station master smiled and replied, “Yes, the ticket is good, and, no, you don’t need a reservation.  The ticket is all you need.  When the train arrives, there will be a seat for you.”

“Great!” I replied, and then added, “Well, when is the next train going to get here?”

The station master smiled and said, “I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?  That sure seems like a funny way to run a railroad.”

“It’s not up to you and it’s not up to me,” was his somewhat solemn response.

“Well, then, I have a question.”

“What’s that?” 

“If I don’t know — and you don’t know — when the train will arrive, what am I supposed to do in the meantime?”

“Give away tickets.”

“I don’t have any tickets, and, besides, I don’t see anyone here to whom I could give a ticket,” I said with a bit of an exasperated whine in my voice.

“Everyone who comes here and belongs on the train station platform already has a valid ticket,” the station master said. He then added,  “You are supposed to leave here and find people who don’t have tickets.  You will be given tickets to give away when the time is right.”

“But if I leave here, I might miss the train when it comes.”

“Won’t happen” was his quick reply.

“How can you be so sure of that?” I said with a bit of panic.

His calm response was, “The train will only come when you are on the platform, and you will know when it is time to come back to catch the train.”

Still being a bit unsure of all that was going on, I asked, “What about if I just stay here until the train comes.  What would happen then?”

The station master laughed and said, “You might get awfully tired of standing!  Do you see anything to sit on?  I want you to note especially that there are no rocking chairs and none of those fancy chairs that recline. This platform is intended for one purpose only, and that is to get on the train, not hang around doing nothing.”

He continued, “However, I can assure you that if you choose to just stand around waiting for the train it will eventually arrive for you, but that will be pure folly.”

“What a waste of the time you have remaining on this side of eternity, ” he said, “when there are so many people who not only don’t have a ticket, they don’t even know there is a train.”  He then added, “And there are way too many ticket holders who don’t know the true meaning of what they have been given.”

In a voice of real authority, the station master said, “Go and tell people about the train, give out tickets as the opportunity arises, explain what the ticket means, and come back when it is time to get on the train. You will have done what was expected when you were given your ticket.” 

“But,” I said a bit overwhelmed, “I don’t know how to do any of that. What will happen?”

“As you are open to learning,” he responded, “you will be taught.”

And then with his gentle smile, the station master concluded, “I will be waiting here to greet you and to open the train door for you when it is time.”

He then repeated himself by saying, “Go.”

And that is what I am seeking to do.

_________________________________________

Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:26.

Prayer:  Lord, I thank you for the assurance of salvation.  I thank you I know where I am going when it is time for me to get on the train.  It is clear that you have work for me to do on this side of eternity before then.  I ask you to lead me in accord with your will, and I ask for your help in following all you have for me to be and to do.  And I thank you I can bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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