Train Ride Home

The summer between my junior and senior year of high school there was something I wanted to do. A church-camp friend who lived in Pennsylvania, near Trenton, NJ, asked me to come for a visit. I thought it was a terrific idea.

My parents weren’t able to drive me from our home in the DC suburbs of Maryland to Pennsylvania and back – twice – in order for me to visit my friend. So, I figured the best thing to do, was for me to take the train.

This was an extravagant proposal, since there was very little discretionary cash in our household. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead and ask my parents to buy me a round-trip train ticket from Union Station to Trenton.

I do not recall the conversation. I do not recall the pleading it took on my part or the dramatics I’m sure took place. But I do recall the ultimate answer. Yes.

This was my first train ride. You know that false sense of independence, maturity, and self-assurance high school brings? I was feeling all of that. Right up to the time I got myself on the train headed out of DC and stared out the window. That’s when I saw the look on my father’s face. He looked so, what? Nervous? Protective? Concerned?

Not sure, but it gave me a twinge of maybe I wasn’t as ready to do this as I convinced him I was.

Charity was a terrific hostess. She planned all kinds of wonderful things for us to do. I was only a little homesick. Then it was time to go home.

The ride home was at night. I couldn’t see anything out the windows. I like landmarks. I like to know where I am, and where I’m headed.

I marked every time we stopped against my train schedule to make sure I got off at my intended, final destination. I eagerly counted the minutes as the train closed in on Union Station. Home.

I saw the lights first. The place was lit up bright as day. As the train slowed, I craned to look through the window. I saw my dad! He stood looking down the tracks. Watching. Waiting.

I don’t think I was ever more excited or happy before that time, to see my father’s face. When I saw him standing there all my anxiety of getting off at the wrong stop melted away.

Of course, being the way cool, sophisticated, world traveler (I’d been in 3 states on my own during this trip, after all) I acted rather nonchalant when I stepped off the train.

You and I are world travelers, too.  We’re on this train ride called life.

Our Father in Heaven knows where we’re headed. He stands on the loading platform looking, watching, waiting. When our train pulls into our final destination we’ll see the lights of Heaven before we even reach it. Because Jesus, the Light of the World, in whom there is no darkness will be there. He’ll be there with a big smile on his face to welcome us home.

What joy will fill our hearts to see him! This time I’m not going to try and act sophisticated when I step off the train. I plan to run with wild abandon straight into my Savior’s open arms. I’ll want to tell him all about my trip and thank him for paying the price for my ticket.

There are many homes up there where my Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am. If this weren’t so, I would tell you plainly. John 14:2-3 (TLB)

Leave a comment to share your thoughts on the subject.

I wish you well.


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Vonda Skelton

I remember at 16yo flying back home from Washington DC to South Carolina after visiting my cousin. I thought I was something until the plane went through a tiny bit of turbulence. Although I tried to act like I was cool with everything, I just knew my life was about over!

Thanks for the picture of our loving Father.

Terri Tiffany

I loved this story! Your dad sounds like the kind of father to have had.