In one glorious month we boarded the Paris – Rome Express, then from Rome to Venice, Zürich, Heidelberg, down the Rhine to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Belgium, Luxembourg, then over the English Channel to London. As the Glory Train rolled on one particular memory stands out. We were sitting in a dining card on the overnight train from Venice to Zürich, crisp linen table clothes and precisely folded linen napkins, heavy silver service, curried chicken, and outside the window the grand panorama of the Alps passed in magnificent parade with a majesty and overwhelming beauty that we had never seen before. We were riding on the Glory Train.
In a way the Glory Train is a metaphor for the unfolding of Christian Life with arduous climbs up spiritual alps, dizzying descents in valleys, and a multitude of stops along the way, some wonderful, some not, all different, all just part of the journey. Some of the stops are grey and dingy, even nasty, others musty, dusty places we never want to visit again. Riding the Glory Train takes a combination of faith and an understanding of the nature of Christian life.
The distinguishing characteristic of riding on the Glory Train is that we actually believed that you could do Europe on five and ten dollars a day. Retrospectively we were right. Forty years of Christian living, uphill, downhill, through dank and dangerous places, sometimes cresting over lofty mountains, then gaining speed on the descent to some valley floor, marks the rhythm of Christian living. I am not naive. Some of those places were very painful, one or two are tender to the touch even to this day.
For each of those experiences there is a reason. Sitting on a spiritual hotplate, at the very least, makes own loath to sit back down there again. There is a rhythm to Christian life. One can't live on the mountain tops, and one shouldn't get trapped into living in the valleys. Christian life is not static but always in motion, it is a journey with a destination, and it has hills, valleys, trestle bridges, tunnels, and passages across level plains, but always it is a forward motion. In Christian Life one lives on the Glory Train, not on any of the various places of interest or dread that flash by the windows. All the stops along the way are temporary, every last one of them, and only one thing is eternal.
Over all I have learnt that I am loved. I have learnt that the Engineer on this mountain railroad of life is worthy of my trust. He is my Redeemer, Christ Jesus my Kinsman-Redeemer. That title is not just smoke from some infernal steam engine spewing out grit and ashes. I have learnt that I am loved and that He redeems the years the locusts have eaten. He redeems the past. Let me be very specific. He redeems my past, my very own past, and I have learnt that my life is a salvation history, an ongoing work of God the Father, through Jesus the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. I have discovered that this is no empty joke. I have discovered that I am Riding on the Glory Train, and this train has a destination. This train is bound for heaven.