The Triple-F Train

Steam locomotive enters tunnel

My train derailed this morning.
Made a mess, too.
Tears.
Wounds.
Pain.

All because the wrong car was in the lead.

Fortunately, I was the only one onboard – this time.
That isn’t always the case.
Sometimes when it derails there are other passengers involved.
And that is even worse.

But this morning it was just me.

Nope. Not a “real” train. No steel cars or metal tracks.
The train of life.
More specifically, the train of my thought life.

There are three cars in my train.
I believe there are three cars in yours, too, if you are a Christ-follower.
Faith.
Fact.
And Feelings.
The funny thing about this train is that all the cars have the power to drive it. They can all be the engine. It is up to me to choose the order – which one is pulling the train forward.

My train derailed this morning because I had them in the wrong order (again!).
I had Feelings as the engine, pulling the train, with Facts adding momentum and Faith firmly as the caboose.
Feeling sorry for myself.
Feeling tired.
Feeling lonely.
Feeling sad.
Feeling overwhelmed.
Feeling done.

Facts followed firmly behind, the circumstances and data of my life. And because Feelings were the engine, the Facts were illuminated by the Feelings. From the front of the train they looked like they fully supported every Feeling that was running the show, justifying the placement of Feelings as the engine.

And this is the funny thing about the Fact car on the train. For me, it is usually in the middle. For some of you, it is the engine, pulling the train. You only believe what your eyes can see, what your ears can hear. You need data to make every decision and you won’t budge unless all the widgets line up correctly. Whether those widgets are numbers or people or ideas – they are the Facts that drive your train. And no matter what, if one of these two cars is in front, they will look like they support the other. The Feelings will pick and choose the facts to support them. And the Facts will be highlighted by the underlying Feelings, whether they are acknowledged or not.

For me, Feelings tend to become the engine, while keeping the Facts in mind with Faith as dead last.

Now here’s the tricky part about all this.
I don’t like to admit that this is how my train usually lines up.
I would prefer for you to think that it is the other way around.
I would prefer for you to think that Faith drives me, illuminating the Facts, with Feelings in dead last.
Because I know that is the Biblical way to do life.
“We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5)
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 12)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” (Proverbs 3)

But no matter what I SAY about the train of my thought life, the proof is in what I do, the actions that make up my day-to-day life. Thoughts – and especially patterns of thoughts – lead to actions.

If Faith is the engine, then I am fully trusting God.
I am looking at the Facts through the lens of Faith.
Choosing to believe that God is Who He says He is and that He is still in charge.
Resting on every promise in His Word.
With my Feelings bringing up the rear. They are what they are – but I give them no power over my actions.

So when Faith drives the train, worry is left behind.
When Feelings drive the train, worry gets the driver’s seat.

When Faith drives the train, the future is uncertain but not alarming.
When Feelings drive the train, the future is terrifying and must be controlled at all costs.

When Faith drives the train, the bank account is generously shared.
When Feelings drive the train, it must be hoarded.

When Faith drives the train, the needs and desires of the flesh can be mastered.
When Feelings drive the train, those needs and desires must be satiated at any cost.

When Faith drives the train, annoying circumstances are simply mosquitos in my ears.
When Feelings drive the train, annoying circumstances are show-stoppers, causing meltdowns and injuring others.

When Faith drives the train, “a soft answer turns away wrath”. (Proverbs 15)
When Feelings drive the train, they throw gasoline on the flame of the argument, just for the satisfaction of seeing it roar.

When Faith drives the train, I see that there is only one enemy, “a roaring lion, seeking who he can devour”. (I Peter 5)
When Feelings drive the train, you are my enemy if we disagree, if you hurt me, if you don’t understand, if you act differently than I think you should.

When Faith drives the train, I desperately desire to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”.
When Feelings drive the train, I desperately desire for my kingdom to outstrip them all.

I wish – oh, how I wish – that I could set up the cars in the right order – Faith, Fact, Feelings – and that they would stay that way. But they do not. They jump track with alarming regularity and I find myself with Feelings leading the way or with Facts driving my decisions. The only way I know to keep the train of my life running smoothly on the track is to be in constant communication with the Station Master. He has given me the Manual on how to keep the train going correctly – as well as the gift of Faith necessary to keep that the front car – and the Fuel of the Holy Spirit to empower the engine. I have the ability to constantly talk to Him, asking for His help, pouring out my feelings, seeking realignment of the cars. And I have the Manual in many forms – on my phone, in my computer, and on paper. I need only to access these things to avoid derailment.

My prayer today is that you and I would keep the cars in the right order, with the correct engine driving the train so that, together, we can accomplish astonishing things for the glory of the Kingdom and the pleasure of the Station Master.

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