by Pastor Ralph Mineo
About 40 years ago, a friend and I traveled in Europe for a month. One of the most memorable experiences was attending Verdi's "Aida" at the Vienna Opera House. Immediately following the performance we scheduled a night train to Italy. Our experience was that the trains in Europe left precisely on time, so we made preparations in the afternoon. We rented a locker at the train station for our luggage and we timed the walking distance from the opera house to the train station.
At the grand finale, our time was running out. What a magnificent march on that stage, not to be missed! There was an army with colorful banners, and real horses and elephants! We left our seats and stood at the top of the balcony right near the exit, even giving us a better view.
As it turned out, we were able to see the entire opera, right to curtain fall. Then we RAN from the opera house to the train station. The moment we boarded the train, it started to move! We had done everything we'd wanted to do. We pushed the limits of time. It was all worth it!
Sometimes our daily lives get very hectic. We seem to be pushing the limits of time with deadlines, commitments, schedules, "to do" lists, etc. Life doesn't seem "simple" anymore. I'm not necessarily complaining about that. I'm usually energized by all that God gives me to do. The gift of being alive with so much to do is exciting for me!
Jesus taught us to "be ready" at all times for his return. I believe that, through faith, by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we're guaranteed a seat on that final train. (There are a lot of poems and songs that use a train as a metaphor, such as "this train is bound for glory!")
I think it's important for us to be thoughtful about our preparations. We are to live our daily lives "being ready." This means that we need to remember what God has prepared for us. We do that with daily Bible reading, daily prayer, daily devotions, participating in a church family, learning more about God and the ways of God in Bible Study and Sunday School, having good spiritual mentors along the way.
When we make these kinds of preparations, there's no chance we'll miss the train! We can even stand on tiptoe to enjoy the majesty of this world God has given us.
To really believe in the eternal life God gives us, means to be so appreciative of the gift that we live our lives "being ready." One spiritual train song (by A.P. Graves) from over 100 years ago goes, "Come then, poor sinner, now's the time, at any station on the line, if you'll repent and turn from sin, the train will stop and take you in."
Prepare! Repent! Enjoy the ride! All aboard!