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Life's Railway to Heaven

Many of the older Christian songs were written in such a way as to identify with something of the times. Life's Railway was such a song. It was written during the time of the railroad being the main way of transport and in it we find a wonderful analogy to our lives. As you read through the words of the song you will see why the song itself can be a lesson unto the church and its members.

Life's Railway to Heaven
Life is like a mountain railroad,
With an engineer that's brave;
We must make the run successful,
From the cradle to the grave;
Watch the curves, the fills, the tunnels;
Never falter, never quail;
Keep your hand upon the throttle,
And your eye upon the rail.

You will roll up grades of trial
You will cross the bridge of strife
See that Christ is your conductor
On this lightning train of life
Always mindful of obstruction
Do your duty, never fail
Keep your hand upon the throttle
And your eye upon the rail

Blessed Savior, Thou wilt guide us
Till we reach that blissful shore
Where the angels wait to join us
In Thy praise forevermore
  You will often find obstructions
Look for storms of wind and rain
On a fill, or curve, or trestle
They will almost ditch your train
Put your trust alone in Jesus
Never falter, never fail
Keep your hand upon the throttle
And your eye upon the rail

As you roll across the trestle
Spanning Jordan's swelling tide
You be hold the Union Depot
In to which your train will glide
There you'll meet the Superintendent
God the Father, God the Son
With the hearty, joyous plaudit
"Weary pilgrim, welcome home!"
We are the engineers and our life is a train. We are in control of this train. It is up to us to decide which tracks our train will run on. Every train departs out of the same station and to the same destination at our birth. In the song analogy that is the Jordan River. In many Christian analogies the Jordan River is used as death. When you cross Jordan you are heading into the promised land. This comes from the Old Testament references where the children of Israel are crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land of Canaan. They were leaving the hard journeys behind them and entering into a land flowing with milk and honey. Today our Canaan land that we are striving for is heaven.
At some point in our journey the tracks will fork and we as the engineer of our train can choose to go either right or left. It is up to us. We can listen for the dispatch operator (God) to call us to go in one direction but it is ultimately up to us to decide if we choose the right fork that leads to heaven or the left fork that leads to hell. The left fork looks like easy traveling while to the right side we see it start to wind up a mountain. We know that the train will struggle as it goes that direction but that is the way dispatch wants us to go.
If we choose to take the left fork we have no guarantee that we will cross Jordan to end up in the land of Canaan. We do not know if there will be another fork down the line for us to turn back the right way and once we have lived a part of our life we cannot go back and redo that part. We cannot become a child again. This train has no reverse on it so there's no backing up. We can only go forward and if we choose to go down the left fork (or not to follow Jesus when we have the choice) we do not have a promise we will ever receive another chance. God promises us each one chance but no more. We each have one fork in our life.
We don't know how far it is to the Jordan River where we "cross over". It may only be a short ways past your fork in the rail. It may be a long way we don't know, but we are responsible for our actions and our choice.
If we choose the right fork and begin our journey toward Canaan and following the directions of the dispatch we still have many trials ahead of us. We sometimes feel as though we cannot make it. But we can because we have God on our side. If you choose the right fork I guarantee you will have more forks appear in your rail and you might not have gone far before you see the first one. they are there to make you wonder if you took the right path and to try to lead you astray. Some of the side rails may look grown up with weeds but others will look as though they are used frequently. The problem is knowing which one of the rails is the right one to be on?
That's where its so important to be in constant communication with your dispatch. That is how you know which is your true path to the destination. Dispatch will tell you and guide you but it is up to you to be responsible and know which is the path they want to send you on. The problem can arise if you aren't in communication with Dispatch. How do you know which path you are to follow?
The song talks of storms of wind and rain, crossing over strife and things trying to wreck the train but it also talks of having Christ as your conductor on your train. We know that it is important to have Christ onboard with you but that won't happen if you don't choose the right path. We know that through God all things are possible and the Bible has told us to "Cast all your cares upon him for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). When Jesus is the conductor on our train we don't have to worry about the storms for he will be there to help us. We just have to make sure that we are not lured off the main rail tracks by an appealing looking "shortcut". We have to know which is Dispatch coming through and which is a false voice trying to lead us astray.
Which fork in the road will you take? The one Dispatch is telling you to take or the easier one? As you cross over Jordan don't you want to know you came into the right station and hear "welcome home" instead of "depart from me I do not know you"? Follow the way God tells you to go and that is your reward.
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