Living Between the Rails

train tracks

I heard Rick Warren say in an informal gathering one time life is usually not all bad or all good. It’s usually a mix of both. True. He then went on to say in his experience life ran like a train turning on two rails–leaning to one side or the other. Straightaways when everything is in perfect balance does happen, but it’s rare. Most of the time, one side or the other is under pressure. When things are good at home, ministry often leans tough. You go through a season of discouragement, the church goes through a plateau or decline, a key staff member leaves. Conversely, when ministry is good, home life sometimes gets tough. You can feel it pressure the track as someone falls ill, your marriage goes under pressure, money tightens up, or a child rebels.

There are obviously times when life is on the straightaways. However, no route is perfectly straight. There are always turns, where things lean heavily one direction. The key is a non-anxious, steady hand supplied by God to live between the rails. We do this through prayer, drinking from the wellspring of the Word, and living according to it. This keeps us from neglecting things that need attention or overreacting at the wheel when we feel the life train lean to one side, causing a derailment.

Inasmuch as it depends on us, lets live between the rails. When you feel it lean, with a steady hand supplied by God’s peace, guide it back to the straight. Lean into the turn. Trying to drive straight when on that sort of curve puts us at risk of derailment. Don’t pretend the curve isn’t there.

I have friends who have lost their families because they pretended the curve wasn’t there. I have other friends who have lost their ministries because they ignored those curves in the track. I have many friends as well who reached their final destination even though sparks flew at various times in life.

I want to be one of those people–I want to finish strong. I turned 37 yesterday. My genogram says I’m probably about half done, if the Lord wills. I want the last leg to be my best. We all should want our last leg to be our best.

There’s only one way. I listen intently to God’s Word, His Spirit’s promptings, the world around me, and lean into the curves life brings in ways that honor Him.

Then, repeat.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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6 thoughts on “Living Between the Rails

  1. good words. i remember rick’s advice that evening. it’s so true that life usually consists of good stuff and tough stuff. and from my experience, what’s key in handling the tough stuff is recognizing and being grateful for the good stuff.

    • Jonathan, that was a really interesting evening that was full of ministry gems. It was the first time I’d heard him speak in such a gathering. I also totally agree with your thought on the importance of recognizing and handling the good.