Don’t Get Sidetracked!

I have a great fondness for trains and railroad tracks. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to hear a train whistle off in the distance or the clickety-clack of a train running across the rails.  When I was a little girl, my grandfather was a train conductor on the railroads in Oregon, and several times as a child, my family and I rode the train from Dayton, Ohio, to Portland, Oregon, to visit him and my grandmother.  Once we were there, many times we’d rise very early in the morning while it was still dark and stand on the front porch, looking out across the field that was in front of my grandparent’s home.  There we stood in the chilly morning air, waiting to see the train go by as Gramps stood in the caboose, waving his lantern at us.  Precious, precious memories!

As some of you know, the railroad was incredibly important in the development of America in the 1800s.  But what you may not know is that an amazing number of railroad expressions have come down into modern American speech as a result of it. “Letting off steam,” “whistle stop,” “making the grade” are all railroad expressions. If a person neglects something big and concentrates on less important things, we say he’s been “sidetracked.” When a person sets something right in his life again, we say he’s “back on track.”

Have you ever watched as a train car is sidetracked?  When I worked in Cincinnati a few years ago, it never failed.  I’d be on my lunch hour, heading to my favorite eatery, but to get there I had to cross a set of railroad tracks in the industrial area of Norwood, and sure enough, the crossing lights would be flashing and the bar would be down.  There I’d sit, watching as the train would slowly roll forward, stop, and then slowly back up onto a second track, completely blocking the road for at least 15-20 minutes until it finally cleared. The interesting thing was once the train cars were sidetracked, they would sit there for days . . . of no good use and accomplishing nothing other than to provide a mural for gangs to spray paint insignias upon.  (Have you ever been at a railroad crossing where a train is speeding by, and car, after car, after car, is covered in graffiti?  A good indication the train has been sidetracked at one time or another.)  In fact, to make a train totally ineffective, all you have to do is sidetrack it. There is a little lever that can be moved and it will switch the track so that when the train arrives, it will go onto another track or a side track. Many times, the direction of a train can be changed without even the engineer realizing it because it can be done so gradually.

Have you ever had this happen in your life?  You’re chugging along through life headed in the right direction. Then, somewhere along the way, you discover you’re going in the wrong direction. Something back down the road got you off on a side track and you didn’t even realize it.

As a side note and totally unrelated to trains or train tracks, but a mode of transportation still the same . . . being the motorcyclist enthusiast that I am, one of the rules of thumb that motorcyclists often hear is, “where your eyes go, so goes your bike”.  As you’re riding along, if you look towards the ditch on the side of the road, chances are, you and your bike will end up there.

As Christians, we are followers of Jesus. That’s the one most important thing in our lives . . . or it should be.  And sometimes, in the busyness of our lives, we need to “slow the train down a little bit”, and do a little inspection of the track we’re on.  Have I gotten my eyes off of Jesus?  Are other things distracting me?  Are there too many things crowding in on my life and crowding God out?

Have I abandoned my First Love?
Are other things now on my mind?
Have I focused my eyes upon the prize,
but the prize is no longer Christ?

I don’t want to ever hear Him say:

You and I — we used to be friends.
Remember the love you had for me then?
I was the one on whom you’d always depend.
Please come to me, love me again.
There was a time when you’d call me for help.
All of your needs I handled so well,
but now you’re trying to handle it all by yourself,
burdened, unfulfilled, and worn-out.
So many times I have knocked at your door,
but my presence is one lately you just ignore.
Why? When there’s no one who loves you more.
Would you love me as you used to before?
For from my love there’s nowhere to hide.
There isn’t one moment you’re free from my sight.
Never forget, child, I gave you my life.
I love you.  I’m your savior, Jesus Christ.

So if some of this is ringing true for you right now, or if you know someone to whom this has happened, the best set of directions for getting back on track can be found in His Word.

(Philippians 3:12-15 NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. {13} Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, {14} I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. {15} Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

(Colossians 3:1-4 NKJV) If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. {2} Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. {3} For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. {4} When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

(1 Timothy 6:10-12 NKJV) For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. {11} But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. {12} Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

(Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, {2} looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

So, my encouragement to you is this:  let Jesus Christ be the Engineer of your life and refuse to become sidetracked! Refuse to let the enemy blind you to God’s plan for your life and your purpose in Christ Jesus. Keep your eyes on the Son and you will always stay on track!

Let’s pray:

Lord, we know, at times, that we let the busyness of life and troublesome situations that we face distract us from You – the only One who can best help us through every situation!   Help us to completely surrender to you every part of us . . . every part of our lives . . . and to keep our focus always on you so that we will always remain on track.  We want to consistently walk in your perfect plan and purpose for our lives.  Help us to do that, Lord, and thank You for your great faithfulness and love for us. We ask all these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

–Cheri Henderson

About Cheri Henderson

Cheri (Gale) Henderson, a resident of Waynesville, Ohio, acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of her life on April 11, 1983. She became a new creation that day, old things passed away and all things became new, and now she lives to bring Him glory. She loves to worship her Savior and she also longs for all men to be saved. Much of her poetry is a reflection of her new heart. She began writing "Lyrics for the Lord" ( the week after she dedicated her life to Christ, and is now a published writer in Billy Graham's "Decision" magazine, many other Christian magazines and periodicals around the world, and most recently, the book "Divine Stories of the Yahweh Sisterhood". Her prayer is that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the words that flow from her pen will permeate the hearts of all who read them, and that lives will be changed forever for the glory of God! "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit" (II Corinthians 2:17), therefore, you may use any of the poetry displayed herein freely and non-exclusively, for non-profit purposes only (and as long as the author credit remains intact), to perform, broadcast, display or print in complimentary newsletters, church bulletins or the like.
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