Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Staying on Track - Life on Life's Terms

I live near the "T," Boston's subway and commuter rail. At some point in my day, I cross the tracks two or more times. Today, I started to think about my train rides -- the rhythmic clickty-clack of steel wheels, the gentle side-to-side sway going around corners and the flash of lights along the tunnel walls -- people with headphones and newspapers -- spinning red marquees with destinations and advertising -- it's all part of getting to the station.

Life seems a little bit like a railroad track. It has two parallel paths, one positive, and the other negative. One rail shapes us, and the other rail blesses us, but both are leading in the same direction. There is something unique about the "T," it has a "third rail" electrified with thousands of volts. It's the one with the power. Without out, millions of commuters would be at a stand still. Like the experiences that shape us, and the ones that bless us, it too is going in the same direction providing power for the journey.

That is how life has been for us these past few weeks. From our 6th wedding anniversary to a wake for a friend of the family, we've needed all the rails beneath us. It seems one track always seems to bear the weight, but all are necessary to keep the train on course. And so the Johndrow' have managed celebration and death, the passage of unemployment to employment, the separation of our foster child, the joy of watching our 21-year-old go to Europe and return safely and a couple of graduations. I am not sure which experiences shaped us, but I do know that my wife and children have been a blessing.

As I am thinking about the third rail, I began to remember the distinctive smell of carbon-- the electricity powers the engines by carbon contacts that contact the rail. It is a very distinct odor that is slightly metalic, yet somewhat sweet in it's own way. There was one other thing that happened these past few weeks -- it was a third rail experience. I had a chance to meet with a friend of my brother's for lunch. He is a writer and passionate worship leader. I didn't really know why were getting together-- but I just felt like I should. It turned out to be a very enjoyable time in the Lord. Just sweet in it's own way.


photogr said...

One can never know where we will be taken in our daily travels. A chance meeting, a new path, and fellow ship in Jesus name all supported by that third rail.

~ Jan ~ said...

Hi, David,

I think most events in our life shape us as does our response to them. I will give you a personal comparison.

In 1996, when my cousin and spiritual mother, Connie, passed away from cancer at the age of 49, I became extremely angry at God. The One I came to believe in and trust had let me down sorely.

My sorrow was greater than my love for God so I took a long, lonely journey into the wilderness. At my departure, I whispered, "Jesus, keep my spirit sweet towards you" and took my first steps onto the desert's sand and mourned.

The words of Jesus, "What the Father has given me shall in nowise be plucked out of my hand" proved to be true and He began to woo me.

It took quite some time for me to warm up to and fully trust Him again but He was in no hurry, He understood. Eventually, I dusted the sand off of my feet and began to walk the green pastures of my Shepherd, again. His prodigal daughter returned home in 2001.

By all tests results, Pat had a 4 year, clean, bill of health from breast cancer. So in the fall of 2007, it came as a great shock that the small twinge of pain Pat had been experiencing on occasion was the breast cancer that had mastasised to the bones on her left side including the ribs and the entire length of her spine.

Pat is my sister-in-law of 47 years but she was much more than that to me. Due to circumstances too detailed to mention, Pat became my surrogate mother. We were as close as any mother, daughter, sister or best friend could be.

After hearing the news, I prayed daily on her behalf for healing. One day, about 10 months into her chemotherapy, while in prayer, I asked God if He was going to heal Pat. In the most gentle voice I heard Him ask, "Janet, if I choose not to heal Pat, will you turn on me in anger again like you did when Connie died?" I knew what this meant, Pat was going to die and God was asking me to make a choice.

In a split second, thoughts of protests swam through my mind. No, not Pat. "How can you keep doing this to me?", I questioned. "First my daddy, then Connie, then my health and now Pat. All that I hold dear is being taken away from me. It just doesn't seem fair."

My heart was breaking from the forewarned knowledge of Pat's death, yet Jesus, the lover of my heart was asking me if I was going to leave Him. How could I, where else would I go? Through my tears, I promised, "No Lord, I won't turn my back on you in anger, again." And I haven't.

Pat died February 9th, 2009. The devastation and overwhelming sorrow I experienced with Connie is not the same reaction I am having with the loss of Pat, which I find miraculous since I was so much closer to Pat than Connie.

I miss Pat terribly but I believe that God has honored my choice of loyalty to Him by giving me a super natural peace and a Godly acceptance of something that would have been humanly impossible for me otherwise.

My experience of losing Connie drove me to bitterness, anger, and mistrust of God. With Pat's death, I relinquished what I deemed as my right to fairness, chose the One whose love for me is eternal and have experienced a deeper level of God and myself. Like I said, all events in our life shape and change us and we can be assured that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.

In Him,


I went into prayer mode daily on behalf of her healing.

Ten months after her diagnoses, while in prayer, I asked God if He was going to heal Pat. I heard Him ask in my inner man, "Janet, if choose not to heal Pat, will you turn your back on me in anger like you did with Connie."
I knew what this meant. Pat was going to die and I was being asked by God to make a choice. With a broken heart and the taste from salty tears streaming down my face, I whispered, "No Lord, I won't turn away from you." And I didn't.

Pat died February 9th, 2009.

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