Railroad tracks snake their way through the heart of the town in which I live. I’m not talking about old, decrepit tracks that haven’t seen any action in years. These tracks are alive and vibrant with the sounds of the trains that roll atop them at various hours of the day and night. A while back there was even a rant of complaint in our local paper about all the train whistles that blow around here.
The trains call to mind a story from the life of J. Hudson Taylor, that legend among Christian missionaries. Taylor spent fifty-one years in China and founded the famous China Inland Mission which was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries into that country. Those missionaries began 125 schools and saw the Christian conversions of over 18,000 Chinese.
Like most missionaries, Taylor was well versed in trusting God to meet his needs. On one occasion, he was in America speaking in St. Louis at the church of Dr. James H. Brookes. The next speaking engagement on Taylor’s schedule was the Sunday service at a church in southern Illinois, and Dr. Brookes was responsible for getting him to the train station Saturday morning to catch the train to that engagement. Unfortunately, however, things didn’t go as planned and Taylor ended up missing his train by just a few minutes.
Dr. Brookes felt awful about letting down his esteemed guest and the two men immediately started asking about other trains that would get Taylor to the church in time. To their disappointment, they were informed that the next train to make that run would depart too late to be of any help. “There is one train that is supposed to connect up with another train to make the run you need,” said the stationmaster, “and it is about to depart right over there. But it never connects up with that other train according to schedule, and so it wouldn’t be any use to you, either.”
With that, Dr. Brookes set off to do some more asking about trains and schedules. He returned without having any luck and was surprised to find Taylor standing on the rear platform of the train that never made the desired connection. He said, “Mr. Taylor, the stationmaster told us that train won’t make the connection.” Taylor just gave him a little smile and said, “Goodbye, Doctor. My Father runs the trains.” When Dr. Brookes protested and tried to talk reason to Taylor, he only received the same reply: “Goodbye, Doctor. My Father runs the trains.”
Upon boarding the inconsistent train, Taylor went to the conductor and explained the importance of making the connection with the other train. The conductor said, “I hope we will time it right with that other train, but we almost never do.” Taylor then thanked the man and set himself to the task of praying about the matter.
And was the connection made? Yes. As Taylor’s train was pulling into the station, he saw the other train sitting there as if it was waiting for him. The conductor, with genuine surprise said, “Well, there it is. But I didn’t expect it.” Taylor then got off his train, made his way across the platform, boarded the other train, and easily made it to the church for his speaking engagement.
Jesus said to His followers, “Don’t worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25). Then He backed up that command by using the birds of the air and the lilies of the field as illustrations (Matthew 6:26-30). If God sees to the care of birds and flowers, how much more will He see to the needs of His children?
In another setting, Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).
So, in light of these passages, I’ve got three questions for you:
Question #1: Are you a Christian?
Question #2: Are you worried about something?
Question #3: Do you see how a “yes” answer to the first question should rule out a “yes” answer to the second?
Christian, you need to learn the lesson that J. Hudson Taylor knew so well: You are a child of God (John 1:9-13), and your heavenly Father runs the trains. Your life isn’t careening unguided down the tracks. The Lord knows where you’ve been, where you are now, and where He wants to take you. Therefore, what you must do is explicitly trust Him to meet your every need and get you to where He wants you to go. When you learn to live like that, you’ll be able to rest in the knowledge that He will ensure that you make every single one of your required connections.