have the good fortune to be the grandfather of twin
girls. Today they are grown, married or almost married,
and working as nurses in a hospital in Pittsburgh. But
when they were little, we spent a lot of time together.
Twins are special, and they always attracted a lot of
wife and I took them to an animal park one day when
they were about five. We had great fun feeding and petting
the animals, riding ponies, and watching the antics
of the monkeys. A little red train ran through the park,
pulled by a colorful old locomotive. When the girls
saw the train, they immediately wanted a ride. So we
lined up in the station and waited for the engine to
chug to a stop.
chose to sit in the seat with me, but when we suggested
that Melissa sit with my wife, Helen, she rebelled.
She wanted to be a big girl and sit in a seat all by
herself. Of course, we let her, although it was a minor
disappointment for Helen.
train pulled away amid the squeals of dozens of children.
We were sitting in one of the last cars, and I turned
around frequently to check on how Missy was doing, all
by herself in the rear. It was an interesting contrast.
While Mandy, alongside me, was looking at all the displays
along the way, pointing and commenting on each one,
Missy spent most of the ride examined every inch of
her private seat. She looked at the floor above which
her feet were dangling, felt the shiny red metal on
the side of the car, and joyfully explored the space
toward the rear of the train that was her private domain
for the remainder of the trip.
a preacher, I couldn't help but notice the contrast
between the way the girls were experiencing the journey.
One's mind was inside the train, the other's was outside.
What a metaphor for the way in which people experience
life in the church.
many, the whole world of truth is confined within the
walls of the church - the traditions, the ritual, the
statements of faith, the systems of belief. The church
is an escape from a threatening world. For others, the
faith journey never ends, and constantly takes them
to new places where they continue to learn about the
larger truths of God.
one of these modes right and the other wrong? Perhaps
not. Missy, for instance, was learning independence
while Mandy was discovering the world. We all learn
what we need to learn at our own pace. Before we can
go into the world as mature spiritual people, we need
to learn the fundamental truths that have been passed
down through eighty generations of Christian history.
But we also need to remember that Jesus is not trapped
in the past. He goes before us into the future, and
he promises us that he has much more to tell us.
would be a mistake for five-year-old Missy to insist
that the only purpose of the journey that day was to
watch her feet dangling over the little red seat at
the back of the train.
John W. Sloat 2005