Near Death – a train-wreck

Saturday I didn’t die. Granted, this is an assertion I can make about any day of the week, however this Saturday I can be more specific. I didn’t die in a train crash. Well, anyone who rides in a train and lives can make that claim. To clarify: I didn’t die when the train I was in derailed.

Travelling between London and Sheffield on a fast, modern, comfortable and convenient example of the latest railway technology, the Eternal seemed terrifyingly close to the Earthly. The journey was easy, everyone made it onto the train on time. No baggage was forgotten and we quickly found our seats. Settling down for a two hour journey after a tiresome few days, I certainly expected to be sleeping most of the way.

Muse lulled me to sleep for half an hour. Upon awakening I was struck by the snow that towered above us on the banks, either side of the track. Most frustrating, that now I lacked any mobile phone signal.

After making a comment as to how similar the scene was to Narnia – via a quip about wardrobes – I settled down again with Muse and the white view out the window.

A jolt. A shuddering. A bag falls from the rack above.

This isn’t normal.

Fearing. Praying. Worrying.

Shaking now. Burning smell. Smoke.

Terrified. Crying out. Panicking

Gravel flies past the window, I grip the seat. Am I to die today? I hope it doesn’t hurt.

A friend grabs my hand. We pray.

Train slows. Shaking stops. Prayer answered.

Saturday I didn’t die when my carriage derailed. Saturday I remembered that I am a fragile thing, a blade of grass easily trampled, a wisp of smoke carried away by the breeze.

What would my life have amounted to had I departed this world that day? What would Jesus say to me on the day I had to settle accounts with him. ‘Did you invest what I gave to you, did you see a great return on my money?’ What would I say? ‘No Lord, I was too busy screwing around.’

I didn’t deserve to live that day. I don’t deserve to live still. Yet it is grace which preserves me in a literal sense even right now.

Encountering the possibility of my fragile body snapping under tonnes of burning metal and earth brings into sharp focus that which matters. I’m glad that concern for the glory of God features prominently in those things which are important to me. I’m ashamed that I spectacularly fail at glorifying God most of the time.

Yet the Lord thought it good to grant me again that grace which sustains me, moment by moment, for his plan is grander than my ideas and his purpose transcends my theology. I remember once again that I am merely a man, made of dust here only for whatever it may pleasure the Lord to have me do.

Thanksgiving, I suppose, should be my heart-cry right now. Thanksgiving that the purpose to which I am called meant I didn’t die in a burning train wreck. Thanksgiving that God listens to little people like me, and saved me.

Time is short and the task is great. I pray that the Lord would show me his ways, in order that I could rightly bring glory to him. I pray to know the great mysterious plan in which I have a part. Pray to reflect his Eternal Deity in the daily affairs.

I’m probably going to fail at that, too.

It would be good for me to be reminded of my mortality more often.

One Comment

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  1. I think we bonded big time there Ian. Mainly through tight hand squeezing and very loud prayer.


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