The Train Ticket

A repost of something I wrote many years ago on another blog, when I was first facing the reality of having a child with undetermined special needs (he was later diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder). It still speaks to me now as I face difficult situations… or emerge from them and wonder how I survived. I think we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for!

One of my favorite authors is Corrie ten Boom. She was a Christian who truly lived by God’s command that we love one another. That was tested by the fact that she also lived in Holland during the time of Nazi occupation. She and her family helped hide Jews in their home and were instrumental in organizing the Haarlem underground that saved the lives of countless people. What an amazing, inspiring woman.  She makes me want to be stronger, to try harder. I wish I could have met her.

In her book, “The Hiding Place”, she tells a story from her youth. While this tale is about strength in the face of death I think it is also applicable on a broader scale.  As a teenager Corrie had witnessed the aftermath of grief after a small baby in her neighborhood had succumbed to illness. It left her young mind feeling deeply upset, confused and afraid. All those feelings tumbled out at the end of the day when her father came to tuck her into bed:

…that night as he stepped through the door I burst into tears. “I need you!” I sobbed. “You can’t die!  You can’t!”…

Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. “Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam when do I give you your ticket?”

I sniffed a few times, considering this. “Why, just before we get on the train.”

“Exactly.  And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too.  Don’t run ahead of him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need-  just in time.”

So often we waste energy running ahead of God, worrying about unknown obstacles that might block our way in the future. There is a fear that, if faced with adversity, we would fall short. We also fall prey to the danger of comparison, and believe we will never measure up to others. There have been times that I looked at the lives of my friends and thought, “I don’t know how they do it! They are so strong!”  But when I take a step back and look at my OWN life, it causes me to think, “WOW!  I don’t know how I do it!” The past few years have been eventful, yet I have surprised myself with what I have accomplished. I realize now that during difficult times my wise Father in heaven knew what I needed and brought me through those trials. But if you had told me ahead of time that I would be going on such a journey I would have resisted, “NO! I am not strong enough!” Yet, despite all the ups and downs of this wild train ride I find that God has given me the ability to live it. To LOVE it.  I discovered that I had my ticket safely in hand, just in time.

Let’s be realistic; we all have moments where it seems we have no strength left. Parenting can be exhausting no matter how much we love our children (or maybe because we love them so much). Life can be extremely difficult. Actually, some days are really really awful. The future can look uncertain and overwhelming. But even when we find ourselves pushed to the brink we can get through. Ask God for help. Ask friends for help. Don’t underestimate yourself, you are stronger than you think! You can do this.

I can do everything through him who gives me strengthPhilippians 4:13

“When the time comes… you will look into your heart and find the strength you need-  just in time.”

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