Be careful to whom you listen

Some decades ago in America a train was travelling West in the depths of winter time. It was freezing cold, snowing heavily and owing to strong winds, there were blizzard conditions. On board there was a certain young woman with her baby who wanted to leave the train at one of the remote stations along the route. Owing to the remoteness of the region one of the tasks of the guardsman was to call out the names of the stations as they approached, so people would know when to disembark. The woman was a stranger to the country so on several occasions she went up to the guardsman and said "Please don't forget me; I need to get off at Redrock". Repeatedly the guardsman promised he wouldn't forget her and would certainly tell her when she was to get off.

As time went on, the train slowed to a stop as though coming into a station and a fellow traveller said to the woman, "that must be your stop now." With gratitude the woman gathered her things and hopped off the train into the storm. The train moved on again. Forty-five minutes later the guardsman came in and called out "passenger for Redrock! Your station is next"! Passengers explained to him that she had got off the last time the train had stopped. The guardsman's face changed to one of despair. "I promised her that I would let her know when to get off. We only stopped because of heavy snow on the track. She has got off to her death." Sadly his prediction was all too accurate. Rescuers found her frozen to death. Amazingly the baby was found alive, having been protected from the worst of the cold beneath his mother's coat.

Be careful to whom you listen! This true story reminds us of the vital importance of listening to correct information and instructions. Sometimes listening to the right person with the right knowledge is quite literally a matter of life and death. But this story also teaches us  an important spiritual lesson that has profound implications.

Every one of us is on the "journey of life". As we travel along, we need to make certain that we are listening to the right "person" and the correct information; otherwise we won't know what we are doing, where we are going, what decisions we are to make, or indeed how to prepare for our journey's end.

Many people today are in a state of confusion regarding a whole range of moral, religious and personal issues. For example, some are  confused regarding what to believe about God and which religion to follow. Others are confused about what should be considered as morally right and what should be seen as immoral. Still more are confused about what is happening to the world and uncertain about how to deal with their own personal problems such as who to marry, where to live, what job to take, and so on.

Often in this confusion people look to their fellow travellers thinking that they might know the answer but they too are just as confused and uncertain. One traveller might say "It's the next station" another might say with equal affirmation that the station has already been passed or indeed that there is no station at all! Fellow travellers don't really know the answers to the questions of life. The only One Who knows the answers is "The Guardsman" Himself. If that poor woman had trusted the guardsman rather than a fellow passenger she would have lived. In stead she put her faith in a well meaning passenger who obviously didn't know what he was talking about; and it cost her, her life.

So likewise, during the course of our lifetime, many fellow travellers will express their views on moral issues, belief systems and personal problems. For instance, some will say "there is nothing sinful about some particular kind of conduct or behaviour", others will say "believe in this religion" yet others may say "take this job, marry that man" etc. Some might  suggest trying clairvoyance, trying New Age rituals, trying crystals, trying this, trying that, for ever clutching at straws in their own personal confusion.

 No matter what others may say, let us soberly remember that there is only One Individual we should listen to and that is "The Guardsman" Himself; Jesus Christ. Our life depends on it. He alone knows the truth. He alone has the answers to our questions and so it is His instructions and commands we should follow. We should listen to Him alone; no one else. As Jesus said "I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life."(John Ch14v6).

One of the main  reasons why God has provided the human race with Holy Scripture is so that everyone can read exactly what He Himself is stating rather than be misled by what fellow travellers say. The Bible is the Word of God, so if we want to know what "The Guardsman" is saying or commanding on any particular issue, it is there for us to read. We ignore His written Word and listen to others, at our peril!

In 2nd Timothy Ch3v16 it states "All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness." We need to trust and obey what the Lord Himself says about an issue rather than others, lest we be spiritually deceived. (See 1st Corinthians Ch6vs 9-11; Galatians Ch5vs 19-21; Ch6vs7-8; 2nd Timothy Ch3v13; Colossians Ch2v8; 1st John Ch3vs7-8).

In Proverbs Ch3 vs5-6 God gives a reassuring promise about guidance. It states "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and rely not on your own understanding. In all your ways obey Him and then He will guide and direct your path." What this means is that if we faithfully listen to and obey His commands in Scripture then we can be sure that we will indeed be guided to "get off at the right station," or make the right decision. We can be sure that we will indeed be shown what path we are to follow, what we really are to believe and what decisions we should make concerning "this or that or the other".

Throughout the journey of life we have to make many serious decisions. Friends and relatives will offer all sorts of contradictory advice but provided we listen to and obey the Lord, He will guide us concerning what is right and proper. Provided we remain faithful to Him, then He most certainly will show us the way we should go and the decisions we should make. Scripture promises that we will receive His guidance, so long as we follow and obey Him totally and completely.

Late in the 19th Century an acrobat arranged to walk a wire across Niagara Falls with another man on his shoulders. Many weeks of training went into preparing for this event. As the final moment for this event drew near, the rope walker cautioned his young colleague with the following words. "We are about to risk our lives, but we will get across safely if you do exactly as I say. I am the one walking the wire, the whole responsibility for that part is mine. I can do it safely. For your part you have nothing to do but match my movements completely. If I sway to the left, let yourself sway with me. If I sway to the right, do the same. Under no circumstances try to do your own thing. You must match your movements to mine so as to ensure harmony because without perfect unison we are both lost. There is only one thing for you to do;-sway with me."

All went well until they drew near the opposite side when the unexpected happened. The long vibration of the wire suddenly formed into separate waves, and each of these formed two more and so on. Soon the shortened wave like movements became so violent that the man could scarcely keep his feet where he placed them. It was a perilous moment, but the feat was accomplished and it was front page news across the country the next day.

After this, the young man who had played the secondary role upon the acrobat's shoulders settled down to private life and got married. In time he became an active leader in the church. He often commented, "I learned more about my relationship with God on that wire than in all of my life. I learned that the only safe way to get through trouble is to keep on fully obeying God. If I stop obeying, even for a moment or just a little then all is lost."

Provided we carefully listen to and fully obey the Lord, He will in turn guide us concerning the decisions we have to make in life. If we do as He says and as He guides, then we will get safely to the other side and disembark at the right station, if however, we disobey, then we will fall into the waters of deception and drown in the depths of despair.