Thursday, September 3, 2015

Stink on the Train

Surely you've heard the country song, "Getting Drunk on a Plane." Well, in my travels, I've seen quite a bit of that song become reality as I sit across from folks drowning their sorrows, their business, their stuff in whatever is available from the service cart. I am waiting for the next country song, and since it hasn't come out yet, I'm thinking about writing it. I already have a working title. Wait for it ...... "There Is Some Stink On This Train."

Imagine the experience. You've been working in the heat of Florida all day, and finally you get to the nice, cool terminal in the airport. You board a plane that is way too small for the passengers who are boarding - especially for that lady who is bringing all of her personal items in overstuffed specialty shop bags. Somehow the carryon rules must not apply to paper bags. Anyway, you find your seat and soon realize that someone is aggressively squeezing in next to you. The flight soars into the clouds, and the trip is underway. You get a nice cup of orange juice - no ice please - and a bag of pretzels. The plane lands just as the nice man sitting beside you starts to lean over into your seat, and the cabin door opens to freedom. You manage to get up the jetway, find your connecting gate on the board, and head to the underground transportation system that the airport has so graciously provided for your convenience. You wait as the digital display tells you that the train is arriving in a matter of seconds. The door opens, and you find a spot. Then it happens. The all too familiar aroma wafts its way into the personal space you call nostrils. You try to hold your breath, but the trip is just seconds too long. You look for another spot, but the smell has permeated the entire train.

What would you expect actually? All of the safety straps/handrails are located conveniently on the ceiling from the train, hanging there ever so nicely for everyone to reach up and expose what should be kept close to the vest. What ever happened to 24 hour deodorant? The Old Spice has gotten old, and the Axe has lost its edge. I should set up a shop near the train to sell fresh antiperspirant, baking soda, coffee grounds, candles - anything to bring solace to the obnoxious attack on the senses.

There is another option. You can actually walk between terminals. It's a little bit longer, and it's hard on the knees, but the tradeoff would be worth it. What's worse is that the stink is no respecter of persons. Young, old, male, female - you never know who the culprit will be until you find yourself standing next to them for the longest 90 seconds you've ever experienced.

The train reminds me of life in a way. People have lots of stink. I suppose we all do. Stuff builds up inside of us, and eventually it just begins to smell. Bitterness, anger, pain, and a host of other emotions threaten to fumigate the air around us. Second Corinthians tells us that "we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). The aroma of Christ. That's a good word from a man who spent a lot of time in prisons and locked up in the bottom of boats, in addition to an extensive travel itinerary that took him across land and sea. I wonder if he would have walked from terminal to terminal or taken the train? Hmmmm.

What is the lesson for me to learn from this life experience and the truth of God's word? Scripture reminds me that the only way people will see Jesus is if they see Him in me and hear of His good news from my mouth. The stuff that I keep buried down has got to go before it begins to seep from my pores in ways that actually push people away from Christ. The best way I know to get rid of a smell is to wash the source. Jesus told his followers in John 15:3 that they were already clean because of the word He had spoken to them. Paul went on to say in Ephesians that "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word ..." (Ephesians 5:25-26).

O King Jesus, wash me through and through with the word of Truth. With the psalmist, I pray, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit with me" (Psalm 51:10).

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