I can still see their faces. Nameless people, standing there, waiting. Their skin turned a greenish-grey from the halide lights overhead. They all looked so sad, like there lives had no purpose or direction, like they were just "existing" rather than living.
Some carried bags, others, hands in pockets, just stood there, staring. They were all waiting for the same thing - the train . . . a train they had ridden on hundreds of times before. Why can I still picture their faces so clearly, some 40+ years later? There was something about them. Something eerily familiar.
Those images got burned into my head years ago as our family traveled through downtown Chicago on the way to our family farm in Michigan. Those people waited on cold concrete platforms for their local commuter train, each of them traveling on their way to someplace else.
I think the reason I can still picture the faces of those people waiting on that train platform today is because of a passion that God built into me before I was even born.
"11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity." - Jeremiah 29:11-14
When I bowed down and surrendered my life to Christ, I received God's Holy Spirit.
32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
And this verse from First Peter clarifies what we are to do with that gift . . .
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." - 1 Peter 4:10
First Corinthians 12 is another source of information about the gifts we received through God's Holy Spirit . . .
"4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." - 1 Corinthians 12:4:7
Every follower of Christ receives His Holy Spirit and certain gifts to use. What are YOUR gifts? How are you using them to help others? My gifts are in the area of mercy/compassion and exhortation. Exhortation means to "address or communicate emphatically, urging someone to do something." A synonym for exhortation is encouragement. So I have compassion for people and I encourage people.
I enjoy writing, and although I am not the best at it, I have a passion for it and I use that gift to encourage others in their faith. But I also have compassion for people who are in need and hurting. I volunteer at our local food pantry. It's a simple thing to do, but I do it for Jesus.
What are your passions? Your talents? My friend at work uses her ability to sew to teach other young women to do the same. And what do you suppose they talk about while they sew? Jesus! :)
"17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:17
Let's go back to those people waiting for the train. Why is the image of their forlorn faces still in my head? It's fuel. Fuel for my passion to reach others for Christ. Compassion for the lost and a desire to encourage them to receive their own "gift of the spirit" by making Jesus Lord of their lives.
That dimly-lit train platform, the people waiting to board that train, are the ones just biding their time on this earth, without a thought about God, or Jesus, or the fate that awaits them. They are waiting to board a train to hell.
If they would only turn around, there is another track, with another train just waiting for them. It is the train of glory, waiting to take them to The Promised Land. But they can't see it. They will never get on board until someone tells them, exhorts them, to step off the platform they are on and get aboard the train that leads to Jesus.
What are your gifts my friends? Are you using them for the Lord? Search yourself. What are you doing now that you could be doing for Jesus? For His Kingdom? I encourage you to seek the answer to that question today. There are few things more rewarding than serving God through something you are passionate about. It is a gift from God! Don't leave that gift unopened. Find what you are passionate about and use it for God . . . today! :)
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day." - Acts 2:32-41
Here's an old Gospel song for you this morning. It encourages us to "get on 'board" the train of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You don't even need a ticket. :) That train is coming, my friends. That train, Jesus, is coming on a cloud (Rev 1:7) and we all must be ready when it gets here and the train doors open. We must be ready when the conductor yells, "All aboard!"
People Get Ready by Jim Cole