The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


May 3, 2014

Don't just watch the train go by

Keeping The Faith column

Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Dec 2, 2006.

As a friend and I shared a childhood memory last week, I came to realize how we often settle for far less than life has to offer.

When I was growing up in a coal mining town in Fayette County, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train would snake its way through Pax once a year.

Someone in town had connections with the engineer, who would call and let officials at Pax Elementary School know when the train left Charleston and about what time it might be expected to pass through our fair city.

Teachers would herd a bunch of squealing, giggling kids down off the schoolhouse hill to a safe spot where we had a wide view of the brightly painted freight train. The slow uphill grade gave us lots of time to scream, wave and jump up and down as the rumbling vibrations beneath our feet heightened the whole experience.

If we got really lucky, the windows on the elephants’ car were open, and we caught a glimpse of trunks and tusks. It was just about more pure delight than a bunch of little country kids could stand.

It never occurred to me to be upset that I would probably never experience the circus itself. That train was on its way to a much bigger city where it would unload its cargo of elephants, tigers and other exotic animals for other people to see. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t likely to ever watch the agile acrobats in their shiny sequined costumes perform their death-defying aerial acts.

It didn’t matter to me that I wouldn’t see the circus because, by golly, I had seen the train.

I’ve started wondering how many other real things I’ve missed. How often have I settled for “watching the train go by” without ever enjoying the full experience some life moment had to offer?

TV, video games and other forms of passive entertainment have made us a generation of spectators.

Many churches have lost members to the comfort and conveniences of  “armchair evangelism.” I’ll admit it’s much more comfortable to hang out in my robe and slippers, sipping coffee and listening to good music and sermons on the tube. The reality I miss, however, is the wonderful energy that comes only as believers gather, mix and mingle and worship together.

It’s much more tedious and time-consuming to become involved in volunteer efforts such as ringing bells for the Salvation Army, helping out at a food pantry or homeless shelter or baby-sitting so some friends can have some quality couple time.

However, the experiences that come with being actively involved are priceless. They may not be as thrilling as watching a circus train go by, but they leave us with a deep-seated satisfaction that nothing else can match.

Practicing our faith engages others in the reality of God’s love for them and enables us to help them develop their faith walk.

I really don’t want to face the Lord on Judgment Day and have Him show me a Divine replay of experiences I missed out on just because I was satisfied with watching the train go by.

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