A few weeks ago, my wife and I took a trip to see our daughter, her husband and our grandchildren in Texas. My wife gifted us with a trip on Amtrak so I could experience the almost 1000 mile trip without having to drive.
The trip was almost 21 hours and I have to admit, is pretty comfortable. There was a lot more room than on a plane and even though there were a good number of other passengers, it was fairly private. Our train companions pretty much kept to themselves but the contact we had with them was pleasant.
Well, that was true for trip to Texas. The return trip was another experience. Trains do not necessarily make long stops as they pass through the various stations on the route. Usually it takes them about ten minutes to replace the passengers who disembark with those waiting at the station. And at some of the stops, you are not permitted to get off the train–even to smoke.
It was after a few of these brief stops that we met a passenger who was seated across the aisle from us. Well actually we began to hear her as she tried to deal with the challenge of not smoking for a while. As the stops passed by, her discomfort grew from complaining to irritability to anger. Along with the anger came endless phone calls to share her displeasure with Amtrak and anyone else who was in her way. One of the colors Amtrak uses on the outside of their trains is blue. Well, there was plenty of blue–language, that is–inside on that day too.
We had a good amount of discussion once she left the train about how uncomfortable it was to hear her continuous complaining. It was obvious she did not do any research into what it is like to ride on the train. And really, she couldn’t make it for a couple of hours without smoking! Her reaction was hardly an example of a mature adult.
As I look back at this experience, I better understand that this was a giant hurdle for this woman. For her, the issue seemed insurmountable. I wonder if her language had not been so severe, would my reaction have been so intense.
Even more, if I had taken the time to think about what I consider the “giants” in my life, I would have better reflected the guideline from Romans 15:7, For this reason, accept one another as Christ also accepted you to the glory of God. Unfortunately, it was much easier for me to look at someone else and justify my criticism.
If I would share all the giants that I deal with on a regular basis, this would be a novel instead of a blog post. But to mention a few:
- Impatience in traffic or any other place I am “unfairly” forced to wait.
- The need to look good all the time.
- The “infallible” ability to identify perceived shortcoming in others.
- A lack of contentment with what I have.
I know these should not be giant hurdles for me to tame. I am guessing for many, the aforementioned were never difficult issues or have been overcome. Maybe they have incorporated Paul’s words into their lives, No testing has overtaken you except ordinary testing. But God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tested beyond your ability, but when he tests you, he will also bring about the outcome that you are able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 EHV. But for me they remain.
What did I learn from that train trip? Amtrak has issues being on time. There are too many factors over which they have no control. However, for me this was manageable.
I learned that one of my more formidable giants is judging others. I fail to appreciate that the struggles others face are not things they are doing just to upset me. While I may not understand the battle they are fighting, I cannot let it give me cause to see myself as better than they.
I also learned that my giants are still alive and unmanageable. I know where to find the power I need to overcome them. If God was willing to give up his only Son to save me, he certainly will power me through whatever it will take to conquer these challenges.
It’s kind of embarrassing, but if I look back at what I write in these blogs, I say that a lot. I know where to turn for help. But many times I do not go to God. Maybe I am just too used to dealing poorly with my giants. Maybe I am afraid to change. Maybe I want to try and fix them myself so I can show God how strong and capable I am. Whatever the reason, I need to turn this all over to him.
I better get to it remembering the encouragement For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13. And now I have more work to do.