TLP Living: 4/16/18

Working for the Railroad

Happy Monday to you from the Heartland of America. I thought I’d share a little story with you today about two best friends…

Jack and Tom were best friends all through school. They played ball together, had adventures together… they were inseparable. When the day came for their graduation from high school, they both went to the railroad office near the place where they lived and filled out job applications. A few days later they were both interviewed and hired, and the following Monday they reported together for their first day of work.

Yes, Jack and Tom were the best of friends.

As time went by, both of the boys married their high school sweethearts and began families, and for some time they remained close friends. One day however, Tom was promoted to a new job in another town, and they saw less and less of each other after that. You know how it is, children come along, family is top priority, but it has to be balanced with your job and other responsibilities, and your youthful friends go their own ways, and before you know it, you’ve pretty much lost track of them. So it was with Jack and Tom.

Jack and Tom had been working for about 35 years when they met once again. Jack was a section boss near his home town. A section boss is an important man, responsible for the safe upkeep and operation of a section of the road. One day, he received notice that the new president of the railroad was coming by to inspect Jack’s section. When the day for the inspection came, a big black limo pulled up at the section house, and the new president got out of the car.

“How have you been Jack?” Tom asked, holding out his hand.

“Pretty fair sir” was Jack’s reply as he shook hands with his old best friend.

They went through the normal process of the inspection without a great deal of conversation. Tom asked a couple of questions, Jack gave a couple of answers and the time came for Tom to be on his way. Just as he was about to get into the car, Jack said, “Hey Tom, can I ask you something?” It was the first time that day that he hadn’t called Tom ‘sir’.

“Sure Jack, what is it?”

“Well, we grew up in the same town together, we were best friends; we even started our jobs together. How on earth did you go all the way up to president of the whole railroad, and I only made it to section boss?”

With the slightest hint of a smile, Tom said, “Jack, when you started here right after we graduated, didn’t you go to work for the paycheck?”

“Well sure I did; I needed a job just like you, Tom.”

“Yeah Jack, I needed a job all right, but you went to work for a paycheck; I went to work for the railroad. It was great to see you again Jack, please give my love to Helen and the kids,” and with that Tom shook Jack’s hand and got into his limo and drove away.

A great many people work for a paycheck, but only a few work for their Company, as any successful business person can attest. As I write this, I wonder if the same phenomenon happens when we accept God’s grace through faith in Christ. Can it be that some people accept God’s grace for salvation and forgiveness of their sins, while others do so to follow Jesus Christ?

I can’t say that I know the answer, but I’ve always wondered about it. Any thoughts?

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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15 Responses to TLP Living: 4/16/18

  1. To whom much is forgiven, much is loved.

  2. I think the problem, and yes I see it as well, is that these days (unlike the Apostolic age) preachers don’t teach people how to live FOR Christ. Preachers read the weekly NT passage and then comment on some aspect of what Peter/Paul/Gospel writers were saying to the people of the times, but rarely try to make it relevant to today. It’s as if we live the same lives as they did back then. I remember my grandparents telling me about life in Sub-Carpathia, the entire town shut down on Sunday’s so no one worked. During the week life was relaxed, nothing opened until after morning Divine Liturgy, and everything shut down in time for Vespers. Life was centered around the church and father’s homily was geared towards how to fit the readings into the day’s life. If the teaching was on theft then father might preach about how not giving an honest day’s work is similar to stealing from your employer, or if you don’t pay your employee an honest day’s wage then you are stealing their labor.

  3. DWMartens says:

    Rather than writing a lot of what is going through my mind just now, I’ll just say this: For some years now I’ve been saying that the best reason to want to go to Heaven is that God wants us there.

  4. That’s a great question. I think it’s a little bit of both. Because there is so much going on. But it all comes back to God. If you look at the Old Testament, many people made animal sacrifices to the Lord in order for their sins to be forgiven. However, if you look into the New Testament then it begins to unfold that Jesus was that living sacrifice. John 14:6 says, “Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” It makes sense if you think about it. Jesus was the ultimate sacrificed. He sacrificed himself for all of mankind. People no longer had to sacrifice animals for their forgiveness of sins. Now, if they wanted their sins forgiven they had to go through Jesus as this verse just says. So I honestly think that it’s a combination of both. In my opinion, you can’t have one without the other.

  5. Wally Fry says:

    I think most people do accept salvation simply to be forgiven and get into heaven. I can’t honestly say I know anybody who accepted salvation so that they could follow Jesus per se. I agree that the breakdown is what we later teach people; or do we even speak to them about this as they actually come to the Lord? As in..”Hey, do you understand the completeness of the commitment you are making here?” Of course, then we might be overcomplicating salvation huh? At any rate, discipling and teaching new believers is quite the missing element in many places; so many folks just don’t understand what they ought to be doing.

    • Don Merritt says:

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there Wally. Few of us really tell people what they sign up for and after someone comes to Christ for forgiveness, we think our job is over: Yay! And all too often we leave the new Christian to find their own way… until one day we notice that we haven’t seen them in a long time… so sad.

  6. Citizen Tom says:


    I think this is a matter of growth in the faith. Hebrews addresses this issue in chapter 5 and 6. Becoming a responsible adult requires considerable effort.

    Here is a key part.

    Hebrews 5:11-14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

    When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are still a child in the faith. As a child, we have an obligation to follow our Savior. To follow Him, we must make an active effort to study His Word.

    When we become mature, we have children in the faith. Because we love our children, we make an effort to instruct our children. That includes instruction in the Bible.

    Yet neither teachers (parents in the faith) nor disciples (children) do what they must until they love Him. In fact, until we begin to love Jesus and obey Him because we love Him, we are still as children in the faith.

    John 14:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

    So it is that many pastors are not mature in the faith.

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