You Really Want Train Tickets for Today? Only in Jesus, Part 16


Train tracks

Every day we face the choice of either being pleasant or of blowing up. Let's face it: stress is on the rise, and with stress comes internal steam, a time bomb in the making, that can explode at any time.

I vividly remember the day when we tried to buy train tickets to go from Belgium to Switzerland via Paris. I still can see the gentleman at the ticket booth looking at me with amazement: "You have no reservations and you want tickets for today?" His eyes clearly told the whole story: I was crazy. This was an impossible task!

Normally such situations would make me frantic, but instead, I repressed the urge to laugh out loud.

The first problem was that the train to Brussels was solidly booked. Unless we were willing to stand in the luggage compartment, that is! Also once on the train bound for Paris, we would have to move around, as they could not assign us seats on such short notice. In other words, if someone came on the train who had previously been assigned our seats, we would have to move. It was going to be a real adventure, and I smiled and said, "No problem!"

I could barely hear his mumbled words: "Tourists from America!"

With tickets in hand we boarded our adventuresome trip, and arrived in due time at the Gare du Nord (Northern Train Station) in Paris. Once there, however, we couldn't locate our 13h58 train to Geneva. We looked everywhere, even under the carpets, but there was no train forthcoming. Grrr…

The service desk was swamped with stressed-out tourists. Even if we found our train, that line would make it impossible for us to arrive on time. So we did the unthinkable. No we didn't blow up, although I did think about it! We looked at our train tickets instead, and discovered the real problem: We were at la Gare du Nord (Northern Train Station), but our train left from la Gare de Lyon (The Lyon Train Station)! Well, that certainly explained why we couldn't find our train! But how were we to get from one train station to the other?

After more searching, we discovered a means of transportation: The Metro. But there was yet another problem: The Metro cars were jam-packed with people. Obviously we weren't the only ones stuck at the wrong train station! We pushed ourselves aboard anyway, and standing over our luggage, we survived by being squeezed like a ketchup bottle (Those poor bottles!).

In the end, we caught out train and we had a good laugh about the preceding adventures of that day. There are times in my life, however, where laughter is an unknown entity, and where my steam rises far too quickly. These are times I wish I could forget forever. But having lived now for more than half a century, I have discovered that anger and fighting are simply the result of our own perception of not being in control.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it . . . But you cannot have what you want." (James 4:1-2 NIV)

Yes our tendency to be in control is the real problem, one that results in making others miserable as well. We won't talk about the at worst scenarios, they are way too depressing!

We fight because we want to remain in control of our circumstances, which is truly an impossible scenario. If we, in all humility, simply let go of control, the quarrel dies down, and instead, we find that we can simply sit back and enjoy the ride!

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy (Lack of control) and selfish ambition (Hunger for control) in your hearts, do not boast (I am in control!) about it or deny the truth." (James 3:13-14 NIV) P.S. All parantheses are from rantings of my imagination.

The solution to all of this? "You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (Me first!)." NIV

We have a lot to learn from train ticket masters, especially when they say: "Do you really want train tickets for today?"

Rob Chaffart

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