The Parable of the Railroad Crossing

Two vehicles came to a railroad crossing from opposite directions. As they approached, the warning signals at the intersection began to blare. The bells went off, the gates went down, and the lights flashed. The driver of one vehicle heeded the warning, brought his car to a stop and prepared to wait for the intersection to clear. The other driver was in a hurry and did not believe the danger was imminent; therefore, he swung his vehicle around the gate and prepared to cross the tracks and continue on his way. As he crossed the tracks the train hit his car and killed him.

Unfortunately, this particular event is not unknown or unheard in our day. We have all known of occasions where just this sort of action has occurred. Some will take to blaming the train operator; some will say that the warnings were not bold enough; some will argue that if the car had been faster it would not have been an issue. Nevertheless, all of these arguments miss the true source of the problem that caused the disaster. The driver ignored the warning. He received exactly the same warning that the first driver received; the only difference is that he did not heed the proffered warning, deciding he knew better.

With as many applications as this parable has for our physical lives, it has an equal impact in spiritual application. The Scriptures are filled with God’s warnings against ignoring his will, living for self, and following one’s own desires and directions. He has warned repeatedly that there is impending doom for those who will not heed the warning at the crossing. One such passage is 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, which clearly states: “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

God is adamant that the unwillingness to heed his warnings and obey his commands will lead to destruction (Luke 16:29-31). Yet many people are in too much of a hurry. They state that they will stop at the next warning signal, but they are just too busy right now. Some do not really believe the “train” is coming; since they have not seen it and have never been hit by it previously, it must not actually be there. Others believe it to be fun to see just how close they can come to getting hit and still get through the intersection. All of these attitudes will eventually lead to the demise the second driver incurred.

As we come to the intersections of life and are presented with the warning signals of God, telling us of the dangers ahead, let us be wise and heed the warnings. They will assist us in our ability to live long and effective lives; as Solomon wrote: “The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened” (Pro. 10:27) and, “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (Pro. 14:27). They will also save our souls, as Paul advocated to the Colossians when he wrote of the Lord: “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28). We never know when the last warning will come or when the “train” will be too close to avoid again; the only safe choice is to listen to the commands of God and obey them; for therein we know we are safe.

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