Clash of the Worlds: A Rainy Train Ride Experience
End of Another Work Week
The sky was threatening rain all day long, and now as going home time approached, those dark clouds rolled in ever so ominously. Then, just as everybody punches out to head home, the clouds opened up, just a drizzle at the start. And so Jessi, too, saying goodnight to her hospital teammates, wishing them all a great weekend, opening up her umbrella, heads for RTA's Redline station, just a few feet away.
Boarding the train, she seats herself as usual at a window seat; she is ready to enjoy an hour or so ride home. She then calls her dad to let him know she's on her way. It's always her great expectation and joy to meet him at Town Square Station to take her the remaining way home.
Having changed to the Blueline downtown, Jessi is soon on her way again. Emerging from the tunnel to the surface, the train heads into Mid-central's eastern suburbs. During the trip, it takes on several passengers at the various stations, practically filling the train to capacity, some exiting having reached their destination, most looking forward to their two days off from their respective jobs. They listen with eager ears as the train nears each station, anticipating to hear their stop announced, such as "Approaching First Avenue and Mid-central Village Parkway Station," or "State and Center Streets Station." Jessi listens for "Town Square Station."
Settling herself for her ride home, Jessi observes the people riding with her, entering and leaving the train. In her heart she considers their eternal destination, knowing that God – the Almighty Three-in-One Creator – knows each one of them. As she observes them, she notices they are a people of color – a people of various ethnicity and race. Observing, her mind recalls that familiar song she learned in Sunday school as a child:
"Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world."
Hm-m, little children, she reflects. That's how it has to be, as Jesus has said. One must come to Him as a small child, as her parents reared her. And as she has learned through Grammy's Bible reading times to her and Timothy, and her parents, for grown-ups to come to faith includes laying aside their preconceived ideas, recognizing their condition before God (the Lord Jesus), and accept a new way of thinking – God's way.
Jessi Shares Her Story
As usual, in taking the RTA home each evening, Jessi spends the time reading her Bible, also praying in her heart for an opportunity to share her faith story with another passenger. This rainy night was one of those evenings, she permitting an elderly, white-bearded man, well dressed and groomed, to sit in the adjacent seat next to her.
Closing up his umbrella, he greeted her kindly, "Good evening, pretty lady. My name is Nicholas, but you can call me 'Nick,'" he so-called himself, he in his white beard and all.
And so Jessi, too, responded just as kindly, "Good evening, Sir Nick. Nicholas, uh?" she then asked. "That's not the same as Saint Nicholas, as in Santa Claus, is it?" she went on somewhat humorously viewing his bearded feature.
"No," he responded. "I'm not Santa Claus and certainly no saint. Just Nicholas. That's, ah, James Nicholas, I should have said. "What's your name?" he asked, again adding his compliment, "Pretty lady."
"Jessica Lynne Whitcombe," she said. "But you can call me 'Jessi,' as I've been called all my life."
"Okay, Jessi," he said with a smile.
Their conversation continued ever so pleasantly, he relating his pleasant visit during the day; she talked of her day at work at the hospital caring for the children.
"I'm on my way home," he said. "After spending a wonderful day with my daughter and son-in-law, and my lovely grandchildren," his face brightened, then frowned. Touching her hand, he said, "And you know, Jessi, this just may be my last chance to see them."
"Oh," Jessi inquired. "How's that? If you don't mind me asking."
"No, I don't mind. You see, I'm dying," that white-bearded man said solemnly. "Doctor says that I don't have too many more days left."
At that, Jessi gasped, being stunned, she also being aware of death throughout her short life. Quiet for a moment, Jessi contemplating her response. "We're all appointed to die, Sir, physically," she then said. "It's a fact of life,"
"But I don't want to die. I guess I'm afraid of death. I love my family dearly and especially my grandchildren." Then, noticing her open Bible, he asked, "You're a religious woman, are you? Do you have any comforting words for me from that Book there?"
"Hm-m," Jessi glanced down at her Bible. Looking at him again, smiling, she responded, "I'm a Christian, Sir Nicholas – a follower of Jesus, the Christ (Messiah) – and this Book here is His word, words of comfort and encouragement indeed – words of life, for now, and the life hereafter."
"You truly believe that?" he asked.
"Sir?" she asked.
"I mean, well, I use to, as a younger man," he went on. "But now I've fallen away from such a standard. I get nothing from it."
"Oh, sir," Jessi said compassionately, "I do believe it, ever since I was a child. My parents call me their 'miracle child,' because I was sickly since my birth, and a few times near death myself.
"But I was saved through the compassion of another and then another. And now I'm able to tell others all about it, about Him – Jesus. When I took Jesus into my life by faith, I was re-born. He's my Lord, Sir.
"Physical death is not the end of life. There is indeed more to life than our mortal flesh, much more. This physical world is but temporal, Sir, a mere layover on our way to our eternal home. Such as this train will layover a bit at each station in escorting its passengers to their physical home. Would you permit me to continue with my story and how I've come to this faith?"
"Do you think it will do any good?" Nicholas asked.
"All you have to do is listen, Sir, and then the good will come if you just believe."
"Well, I don't know about that, but go ahead then," Nicholas said with a sigh. "I guess it won't hurt anyway, at my age."
On that train ride home that rainy Friday evening, Jessi continued her story, taking that opportunity God (the Lord Jesus) brought her way, relating to Mr. Nicholas her faith story.
Another Childhood Remembrance
Perched on that ottoman for another Bible story, young Timothy and Jessi listened intently with imagination as Grammy opened her Bible once again and began reading.
In her imagination, Jessi found herself and Timothy walking the streets of Jerusalem one night during the time Jesus also walked those roads. In observing the people, they noticed a Pharisee, named Nicodemus, approaching Jesus.
("Oh, he's a member of the Jewish Ruling Council," interjected Grammy.)
Recognizing Jesus, Nicodemus spoke to him concerning the miraculous signs Jesus had done, "Rabbi," he said, "You are a teacher sent from God because no one can perform these miracles you have performed here unless he is from God."
Then Jesus asked him, "Do you want to see the Kingdom of God? You cannot unless you are born again."
"Born again?" Nicodemus asked, a puzzled stare gripping his face. "How can this be? Surely I can't re-enter my mother's womb and be born a second time, can I?"
"Yes," Jesus answered, "This is indeed a hard thing to understand. Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born again. It's a work of the Holy Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life…
("That's conception in the flesh," Grammy interjected again, "inheriting Adam's evil nature."),
“… but the Holy Spirit gives new life from Heaven," Jesus said.
(And yet again Grammy clarified for the children, "That's restoring man's soul to what it was when God originally made it, bringing mankind back into a right relationship with the Almighty Three-in-One Creator").
“Nicodemus, however, a teacher of Israel, still could not grasp it. Jesus went on, "If I speak to you of earthly things and you do not believe, how then will you believe if I speak to you of heavenly things?"
Mr. Nicholas’ Departure
The train approached the next stop. "Citrus Plaza Station," the announcer said.
"Ah," Mr. Nicholas recognizing it was his stop thanked Jessi for sharing her story, even though she hadn't quite finished. "Good-bye, Pretty lady," he said rising from his seat, "It was a pleasure to meet you."
"Good-bye, Sir Nick," Jessi said with her beaming smile. "It was good to meet you, too. I hope we can meet again someday." She hoped that she might see him again in the life hereafter, yet not knowing if he had believed. She kept him on her heart, lifted before God in prayer.
The train, on its way again, Jessi sat back in her seat peering out the window at the gently falling rain. Because of the clouds covering the sky, the darkness seemed to be approaching faster than usual. Jessi contemplated her time with Mr. Nicholas: Would darkness continue to reign in his heart? She then prayed that the seed planted in his heart would be harvested, for the glory of God. "Dear Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, bring him into the light of your truth."
Just then, a woman rising from her seat across the aisle moved over and seated herself in the now vacated seat next to Jessi. "Miss," she said. Jessi turned toward her, "I couldn't help hearing your story you shared with that old man. I was so moved by it myself. I'm a believer too, you see, and a member of the Downtown Women's Club of which many of the other members are not believers. It is my responsibility for that club to bring in persons with an interesting life story to tell. I was so impressed with your story that I'm wondering if you could share it with my club members some time?"
Without hesitation, Jessi gleamed, "I would love to," realizing the doors of opportunity opening up for her to share her faith. She was grasping the meaning of her dream, and of the King's words, "As the Father has sent me into this physical world, even so, I am sending you...."
(The evil one, too, with his hateful glare, continued planning her demise.)
© 2018 Charles Newcombe