Train-ing for God

Why does the Bible say we have to number our days?” Cole looked straight through me with his guileless blue eyes.

Why now? I shot a nervous glance at the kitchen clock. 7:40.

Though I love when our boys ask Biblical questions, time was short. It was a hectic Monday morning and my hubby was heading out the door with Cole. I hugged them both goodbye and told my thoughtful first-grader, “Since we’re only on earth a short time God wants us to spend those days wisely for Him. We need to be…”

An unexpected thought crossed my groggy mind. “We need to be responsible, reliable, and really useful with our time.”

A distant choo-choo echoed through my imagination like an outspoken, long-lost friend. Thomas the Train?!

As Trev and Cole loaded into the car, memories flooded back. From 16 months to a few months before his third birthday, Cole lived and breathed trains. He carried them around, lined them up, raced and crashed them. We watched Thomas the Train DVDs until I choo-chooed in my sleep.

“Thomas and the Magic Railroad” was one of the first movies Cole watched as a toddler, and I remember hearing “Mr. Conductor,” played by Alec Baldwin, repeating the three R’s of Railroading: “engines must be responsible, reliable, and really useful.”

I realized it tied neatly into what our six-year-old was asking.

Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” How can we number our days for God? Being responsible with how we live, reliable with how we love, and really useful for our Savior – all for God’s glory.

Being responsible with how we live means being accountable to our Savior for our actions and decisions. We’re each created for God’s good works – to fulfill a purpose for His glory. Paul’s words in Acts 20:24 create a framework for living responsibly for Him. “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” We each have a life race to run for Christ, and we’re purposed by the abilities He gave us. 

The variance of God’s gifts and calling is a marvelous rainbow of God-infused human talent: a few will be pastors and theologians; many will scrub floors and change diapers while quietly raising a new generation of believers; some will walk the slums of cities ministering light into darkness; a few will write stories magnifying God’s love; still others serve Christ with their lives while protecting widows and children in civil war-torn Sudan. 

What matters most is that we’re responsible within our specific calling from Christ.

When someone is reliable, they’re known to be trusty, authentic and consistent. I pray as our sons grow and mature they’ll be reliable with how they love. I pray they’ll choose to love people in their lives not because it feels good (and it will – at times) but because they were loved first – unconditionally – by their Savior.

Jesus’ love is the most reliable – trusty, authentic, consistent – love we’ll ever experience.

When Jesus commanded us, “love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:12 & 13), our Savior didn’t mean we’re to love when we feel like it or when it’s convenient. After all, feelings are consistent only in their inconsistency;  choosing to love others selflessly is aiming for our Savior’s heart.

When we seek our Savior’s heart and our love is shaped by His love and His Truth (God’s Word), we’ll be reliable in how we love.

I’ve learned the most effective way to be really useful for God is by living according to His Word. The Bible provides perfect guidance for how we’re to number our days for Christ. Paul’s words to the Colossian church detail how our lives can be really useful for God. “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (3:12-14). 

Verse 14 is a wonderful physical representation that we’re to “put on love,” or wear it over ourselves. 

When God’s love covers everything we do (living responsibly) and our love for others (loving reliably) then we’ll be really useful for Him – all for His glory.

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