For my commute to work this summer in ATL, I was able to enjoy this thing called the “Marta”. Back in Texas, the Marta is not a thing…well to my knowledge. So what is the “Marta”? Well the Marta is a bus/train system that takes you around the ginormous city of ATL. The trains move rather quickly, so for those who aren’t lucky enough to find a seat, they must rely on their balance and the rails available to keep them from falling on their face, or on the face of another human being. One particular morning, the train was delayed and therefore it was packed. I was fortunate enough to find one of the last remaining seats. As the train began to leave the station, I looked to my left to see a father with his 5-year-old son. The father was pretty close to the son and surrounded most of his body, but there was space in between them. The father told his child to hold onto the rail as the train pulled off. I noticed that the child acknowledged that his father spoke, but he totally ignored his instructions. Again, his father tells him to hold onto the rail. The little boy rolls his eyes and says he doesn’t want to because he doesn’t feel like it. A little more sternly, his dad tells him to hold on to the rail. The child notices the strength in his father’s voice increasing so he decides to hold on…but quickly he gets lazy and lets go of the rail. This process repeats more times than I can count. The father continuously reminded his son to hold on to the rail. There finally came a point when the child broke down in frustration and asked his dad, “WHY DO I NEED TO HOLD ON??? THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE WHO AREN’T???”
There was a brief silence and the dad caught his breath so he could speak sternly and remain calm. The dad sits there to explain to the little boy that he could fall over and hurt himself if he didn’t hold on. Even after this knowledge, occasionally the little boy would let go because he thought that he could handle keeping his balance on his own.
Now his father and I both knew that the child was only supposed to hold on for his safety. His dad wasn’t trying to take away his freedom, he was simply trying to advise his son to hold on because he knew that if he did, he would not fall. If he held on and wobbled a little bit, the father could just move in a little bit closer to secure that he wouldn’t fall over. But, even though the father and I both understand how the train works, this 5-year-old boy doesn’t quite get it. He doesn’t realize that his dads “command” was just done out of love and protection.
This whole situation immediately led me to deeply reflect on my loving relationship with Heavenly Father. In life, God has given us commandments. He has told us to do (and not to do) certain things that will ensure our safety and complete happiness. The father on the train represents Heavenly Father. This loving Father will do anything to protect his child from the dangers and surprises of the world (the train – its ability to jolt and uncontrollably move). If we don’t heed to the warnings and commands of our Heavenly Father, we become subject to the desires of the world (the desires of the train). But, if we do choose to listen and hold on to the rail (keeping the commandments), we are able to not only be protected from many things of this world, but we also have our Heavenly Father engrossed around us making sure that we don’t fall. If we hold on to the rail but wobble a little bit, he will be right there to secure our stability. Whats even more beautiful about the whole situation is the father’s attitude towards the son. He was willing to keep reminding his child, he was willing to stay there and keep giving the child another chance to listen to his instructions. GOD IS THE SAME WAY. He yearns for us to keep His commandments. He doesn’t care how many times we’ve let go of the rail, as long as we will just grasp it once again. Our loving Heavenly Father just wants us to come back to Him so He can protect us.
How often does pride get in the way of keeping the commandments? How often are commandments ignored because there is not a clear explanation as to why it’s there? How often are they ignored due to apathy? How come holding onto the rail and listening to Heavenly Father can be so difficult at times? Well, maybe it’s because we are human and we aren’t perfect just yet, and that’s okay. God’s love is unconditional for a reason.
I loved seeing this situation play out on the train and really getting the opportunity to reflect on my personal life and decide if I truly trusted God enough to continue to hold on to the rail and find the love and protection that He’s trying to give to me in my life.
Hold on to the rail to abide in The Lord’s love (John 15:10).
Hold on to the rail for his commandments were not meant to be grievous (1 John 5:3).
Hold on to the rail if you love The Lord (John 14:15).
Just hold on, and if you let go, just grab the rail again, but never give up.