Full Steam Ahead!

Steam Locomotive No. 844

Steam Locomotive No. 844, Flickr photo by Clinton and Charles Robertson

I used to work for a railroad.  The engineer on a train has a huge responsibility to safely operate and move that train over sometimes difficult terrain and in all kinds of weather.  When you have a train roughly a mile (or more) in length, hauling over 10,000 tons of freight, running in excess of 70 miles per hour, it can take a couple of miles to come to a complete stop under emergency braking and on level terrain.  It takes considerable training, skill, and experience for the engineer to safely perform his or her job.

What it also takes is trust.  The engineer must trust the dispatcher.  This is because the dispatcher is the one who can see the bigger picture and is able then to safely coordinate all the rail traffic.  If the dispatcher gives the engineer a green light, but fails to direct an oncoming train onto a siding first, there’s going to be a disastrous head-on collision.

Engineers have shared with me how frightened they can get when they see the headlights from another train in front of them.  They have no idea if the train is on a siding, or on a second set of mainline tracks, or if a collision is about to happen that will likely end the lives of all the crew members.  There’s not enough time to stop.  All the engineer can do is put his or her trust in the dispatcher and keep the train moving “full steam ahead.”

Locomotive Engineer

Author of Faith4TheJourney at the helm of UPRR locomotive 2284 while training at the DK&S in Searcy, AR

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Similarly, we need to admit that our own knowledge and understanding is extremely limited.  We can only see what’s around us and what God chooses to reveal to us.  We need to use the intelligence God has given us, but we must not rely completely upon it.  Instead, we must trust in the One who can see the complete picture, and keep moving “full steam ahead” with God providing the direction.  At times, that can be scary, but unlike a human dispatcher, God will never make a mistake.  He is worthy of our trust!

—– Paul —–


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