“I’m on the wrong train!” It took me only about 10 minutes to realize that I had boarded the wrong train back to Oxford. During our free weekend in the Oxford Experience I had been visiting a friend in Chester, which is about 3 trains and 3 hours away. After a couple of great days of friendship and sight-seeing I was returning to Oxford for our second week of classes. I had looked up my route ahead of time, and knew I had to take a train from Chester to Crewe, a second train from Crewe to Wolverhampton, and a third train from Wolverhampton to Oxford. Not too bad. I’ve ridden the rails in England several times before and felt pretty confident that I could handle them. But to be sure, I double-checked the process and made note that my train from Crewe to Wolverhampton was a Virgin train going to London Euston, leaving at 5:01 from platform 5. I got there just as the train arrived and boarded it.
But the train took off at 4:56. Pretty strange… the trains (especially British trains) are always right on time. Then I head the announcement: this particular train was also a Virgin train going to London Euston, but on a different track, meaning that it wouldn’t be stopping at Wolverhampton. This also meant that I wouldn’t be able to take my scheduled train to Oxford. What was I to do? I’m in a strange country and I’m not that familiar with the rail system. I could hear the names of towns where the train would be stopping, but they don’t mean anything to me.
This reminds me of the times in my life where I thought I was going in a certain direction, and took a wrong turn. Perhaps it wasn’t a drastically wrong turn. Perhaps it was just a slight deviation. Perhaps it was a slight confusion in terms of timing… But the result is always the same: finding that my life is headed in a direction other than what I intended.
Have you ever found yourself in that place? Have you ever wondered how you got onto the “wrong track”? Maybe you thought you were going somewhere, and came to realize that you weren’t headed in the right direction.
When we have these moments of clarity, what do we do? You see, getting on the wrong track is not the problem, as long as we recognize it and do something about it!
As soon as I realized I was on the wrong train to London, I asked for help. The train janitor came by, so I told him what I had done and asked for advice. He told me to speak with the clerk at the snack bar. So I went to her and, again, explained my predicament. She called the “train master” and relayed my concern. Then she told me to take a seat, and that the train master would let me know what to do.
About 15 minutes later the train came to a stop at the Leicester station. The train manager called me and said, “Get off now, here is your new itinerary. Follow it.” From that point I had to take 3 additional trains (Leicester to Nuneaton; Nuneaton to Coventry; and Coventry to Oxford), and it took me an extra hour, but I arrived in Oxford safe and sound.
This experience highlights how we can get “back on track” when we find ourselves headed in the wrong direction:
- Recognize you’ve made a mistake
- Ask others for help – be ready and willing to receive godly advice
- Turn to God, the “train master” who knows all the routes and knows how to get you to your destination.
- Wait for His instructions – be still and know that He is God. Listen to His voice.
- Obey immediately – As soon as you hear Him speaking, do it! Don’t delay, and follow His instructions.
Detours can be dangerous, if we ignore them and continue on the wrong track indefinitely. But if we pay attention and recognize where we have deviated, we can repent, look to God, follow Him, and get back on track.
Dr. Chiqui Polo Wood | All Rights Reserved 2015