Life Is Like a Mountain Railway

Life is like a mountain railway
With an engineer that’s brave
We must make this run successful
From the cradle to the grave

Heed the curves and watch the tunnels
Never falter, never fail
Keep your hands upon the throttle
And your eye upon the rail

Blessed Saviour there to guide us
Till we reach that blissful shore
And the angels there to join us
In God’s grace forevermore

Written by Rev. Charles Davis Tillman (Baptist Pastor) March 20, 1861,

In our Daily Office readings this past week we have been reading from the first book of Peter. And, when I read this passage from the Gospel of Luke, I am reminded that we are included in the witnesses that have never seen Jesus in the flesh, but we believe even though we have not seen Him. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8)

In our reading this morning, Jesus appears to a group of his disciples. It happened the day after Jesus had walked with two of his disciples as they traveled on the road to Emmaus. They were now telling this group of disciples how Jesus had met with them and walked with them, and then open their eyes, as he revealed himself to them. And, why they were still talking about this, Jesus stood among them, and said “Peace be with you”. They were startled, freaked out, and frightened. They thought they saw a ghost.

What would you do if Jesus just happened to walk into this sanctuary and start talking to you, like it was a normal thing to do? Would you be startled or frightened? I know I would. We can identify with these disciples and think “what in the world”. And Jesus would calmly say, “no it’s not what in the world. I came into this world to rock your world, and I will continue to do that, both now and in the future. Then he says “Shalom, be with you” This word means may you have harmony and rest, versus anxiety and fear. (Luke 24:36)

There have been times when I have been overwhelmed when the Holy Spirit, sent to do the work of Jesus, appeared to me and brought peace to my fearful and troubled soul. Have you ever had an “epiphany” moment when your world collides with the reality of God’s world? A time when the peace of God startles you, but at the same time reassures you with a perfect peace. As I was thinking of a time in my life when God broke in and surprised me, startled me and blessed me with a wonderful promise.

I was a freshman at Adam State College in Alamosa, Colorado. Alamosa is near the border of New Mexico, a relatively short drive from Taos, New Mexico. I was on spring break, and I was spending some time in Taos. One night, I was sitting on the trunk of my car on the side of the highway. A car came off the highway and according to the police report was traveling at 55 miles an hour. The kid that hit me was stoned and thought I was in a turn lane. My older brother, who was also a student at Adam State refused to sign a doctor’s approval to have both my legs amputated. My father made arrangements to have me flown to Grand Junction, Colorado, where I was under the care of a bone specialist surgeon, and for the next 6 months I was in the hospital, and there was no guarantee that my legs would hold up once I stood up, especially my right leg.

My father came to see me and pray for me every day. One day he came in, and I could tell he had been crying, but he had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes. He said these words: “Dave, I was praying for you this morning, and a deep sense of Gods presence surrounded me, and I knew it was a message from God to give to you. Son, you are going to walk. You are going to be okay”. It was a surreal moment. I was fearful, but at the same time I was filled with hope for the future. I was fearful because at that time in my life, I was running from God. So, I was full of fear and peace at the same time. But, I knew this was a time of epiphany for me.

Within weeks after my casts were taken off, I was not only walking, but I was running. For the next 20 years or so, I played basketball, football, soccer and baseball. I also ran a lot, to keep in shape. I do believe that my father had a prophetic message for me. I can’t explain it, but I can recognize it when it happens.

After Jesus talked with his disciples, he opened their eyes, so they could understand the Scriptures. When we have encounters with Jesus, he opens our eyes to the scriptures and the Living Word gets all tangled up with us in our lives, and with that understanding comes shalom, real peace.

In this journey toward the Heavenly Jerusalem, we will have encounters with God. Some of these encounters will be more memorial than others, but it’s in the daily routines, the daily journey that we find Jesus breaking into at different times, surprising us, but reminded us that He is on this journey with us.

Blessed Saviour there to guide us
Till we reach that blissful shore
And the angels there to join us
In God’s grace forevermore



The Reverend Dr. David Madsen