The Christmas Train

Usually, I never think of presents of past Christmases, but this year has been different.  

One present I’ll never forget sticks out in my mind with clarity. It’s been so long now that I no longer remember when it happened, but I’ll never forget what did happen.  

I must have been about 8 or 9 years old. That summer my parents took off for a week leaving me with one of my aunts. While I was staying with her I not only got better acquainted with her grandson, a cousin of mine, I also discovered his Lionel train set; in plain English, it was to “die for”. I came home with my heart set on getting an electric train of my own.  

I don’t remember how it was I began to pray about it, but I did. Looking back, the way I prayed was pretty unique. I didn’t really know God and what to expect from Him, but I knew an electric train set had parts, and I was afraid that God just might forget or overlook a necessary component, so I handed Him a list of parts: engine, tender, several cars, caboose, tracks, transformer and wires to connect the transformer and tracks—just to keep Him from omitting something that would make the train inoperable.

Every day I prayed that prayer. Every day I ran the list by God. Every day I hoped the train would come—complete.  

Christmas at last arrived. That morning I crawled out of bed and started downstairs. When I turned the corner and could see the living room floor I almost jumped out of my skin: there was my train going around the tracks under the tree. I let out a shriek and flew down the rest of the stairs and flopped down beside it on the floor and watched it go round and round. I must have been the most excited, happiest kid in town that day.  

Looking back at that day there are a few lessons you and I can take away. First of all, what kind of God are we praying to? I never learned how it was that my father got a train set for me (and spent half the night with a fellow down the street putting it together—you know: “some assembly required”—and playing with it). There wasn’t a single part missing. The tracks were mounted on a sheet of plywood with a tunnel on one side. I didn’t do very much that day except play with that train. I remember being amazed that God remembered every part. Now, what father would get his kid a longed-for present and overlook a few parts so it wouldn’t work? My father didn’t, but our Heavenly Father, who must have impressed him, wouldn’t do that either.  

One of these days life here as we’ve known it will be complete. We’ll get to know our Father God, and He’ll show us all that He did that we never knew, and realize just how good He really was to us through our entire life. We’ll learn what all the gifts He gave us were and the smiles He wore as He gave them to us—like the smiles we had as we watched our children open the gifts we gave them. You know, we have a wonderful God who loves us completely, and isn’t it wonderful how we can become like Him?