Walking The Tracks

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

My Dad and Mom served the Notasulga Methodist Church from 1940 -1945. I was 2-years-old when they went there. My brother George was born during their ministry in Notasulga.

The church has a great history. Last Sunday they celebrated their 175th anniversary. I was invited to come back and preach at the Homecoming service.

I started to school in Notasulga. I have always said that it was my brother George who was the mischievous preacher’s kid. A lot of eye witnesses there quickly corrected me!

I learned a lot of important lessons in Notasulga. While babysitting my brother one afternoon, a group of us boys decided to play football in the parsonage yard. We just tied George to a big oak tree. My Dad and Mom came home early. My Dad didn’t believe in simply teaching with words – I got a spanking that I still remember today! I still avoid oak trees!

One of the most positive lessons learned involved the railroad tracks about one block behind the church. The train came through Notasulga a couple of times a day. It was safe for us kids to go down and play on the railroads tracks during the “safe hours.”

There obviously wasn’t much for us kids to do in Notasulga because one of the big things was to see who could successfully balance and walk on a railroad track the farthest without falling. Since the track is so narrow, it is a challenge to walk very far.

One day I saw an adult come down and engage a couple of high school seniors in conversation about how far they could walk on the tracks. He said that he would give them $10 if they could walk 100 yards on the tracks without falling off. I knew they couldn’t do that, but I saw an interesting expression on their faces when they accepted the challenge.

When the two boys got on the tracks, they didn’t get on the same track. They got on opposite tracks. They stretched out their arms and braced each other. They leaned in towards the center of the tracks and started walking. Each one was holding the other one up. This took away the possibility of becoming unbalanced and falling off the track.

Those guys, arms locked, walked very carefully for 100 yards. They didn’t fall because each was depending on the other to hold him up. They could have walked 100 miles if they had had the energy!

Life can be difficult when we try to walk it by ourselves. We fall off a lot of times. Life works best when we allow someone to lean on us and we have someone on whom we can lean. Two people holding each other up takes out a lot of the danger of stumbling or falling.

We need each other. Paul writes “Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 CEB) Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) reads “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 17:17 (NLT) reads “A friend is always loyal and a brother is born to help in time of need.”

The church is the place where people can depend on each other and be dependable for each other. People can walk a long way when they do it together – leaning on each other.

I saw those railroad tracks last Sunday. A lesson I learned as a 6-year-old is even more real in my life today.

Let’s lock arms and walk!

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