He Meets Us at the Rails

11 May

Where Is God When We Go Off the Rails

[This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today on Mother’s Day.]

I thought about writing a Mother’s Day piece. I really did. But as awesome as that sounded to me, it ruled out so many people. I appreciate these Hallmark holidays in some ways, but I also know that for many, days like today can be difficult reminders of dreams yet unfulfilled or even crushed, or of family relationships that haven’t been or aren’t what they should be. Without going into the many manifestations of that, I wanted to address the pain, frenzy, panic, and weariness out there today. I’m going to lay it bare.

We may not all have our Sunday best on, with a handful of flowers, reservations at the local restaurant, gifts on the counter, and a trip planned to see family. Maybe this week was full of pulling ticks off kids, walking in late to that work meeting, facing three days of piled dishes at once, a car that wouldn’t start, a kid who mouthed off, a relationship that looked like it was heading toward marriage and abruptly broke off, a bad job review, a betrayal of some kind. Maybe it was an argument with a loved one, a bad report card, a miscommunication with your spouse that doesn’t feel like any “Hallmark moment”—or holiday, for that matter—that you’ve ever experienced before.

Mother or no mother, maybe your week doesn’t feel like walks in the sunshine and tea with biscuits.

Maybe your week chewed on some rocks, spit them out, and crunched down on them again.

Let’s be honest: Sometimes, we simply go off the rails.

If we’re lucky enough to know our own red flags, we line up the wheels again and return to a slow chug.

But, at other times, we lay there in a heap by the rails, feeling completely disempowered as to how to ever get back up onto them again. We may be stuck, scared, depressed, discouraged, and even a bit wounded.

In our home, despite the right vitamin supplements, rest, sensory tools, medical interventions, downtime, and therapies, we still have times when we go off the rails. One of us spirals more easily than the rest, and then it’s like a strong pull threatening to steal our very breath and drag the rest of us into its unrelenting swirl. These are the times I have to remember a child who has been healed of many things already, the most remarkable being his significant food allergies a few years ago. I need to not focus on the storm around us but on the eyes of the One walking on water toward us.

“I am trying not to look down at those waves, Jesus. They are lapping at my feet, but I’m going to look into Your eternal eyes and know You can call this storm off whenever You want to—and that even if You don’t, You still won’t let us fall in while we’re looking at You. You are my blessed, holy God— —whether we live most days on or off the rails. You came to earth to meet us at the rails and extend Your mighty, loving hand. Amen.”

I chose this particular photo because it is the exact perspective I am referring to: when we are eye-to-eye with the rails we just fell from.

And no train is in sight.

I was at that place several years ago on a cold bench facing a raging ocean. I kept waiting for someone to lift me back onto the right tracks, but the world around me was radio silent. Then God reminded me, through the quietness of His Spirit, that He was with me and I was not alone. Regardless of my feelings (which, let’s face it, regularly confuse everything that is true and real), He was at the rails with me, extending a hand, waiting for me to take it and get back up again.

The cool part is: He didn’t demand I realign myself and go back to full functioning immediately. He sat there with me. Because you see, once you trust Him as your Savior and begin a relationship with Him, He will never leave you.

Whether you are in a good season of living healthy or you’ve made bad choices and/or simply can’t get it together,

He meets us at the rails.

That is the message of Christ coming to live and die as a man-but-also-God, defeating death and sin on the cross for us through His resurrection. When we believe in Him, we are never alone. He is always near.

Romans 8:38-39, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I also find comfort in this:

Psalm 34:17-18, ESV, King David writing/singing

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. The LORD is your keeper;

Whatever rail you find (or have found) yourself by—either in the past, now, or in the future—please know He is with you, ready to help lift you up.

In Psalm 121, the Bible says: “The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.”

Isn’t that awesome?

He is so near that He is the shade on our right hands!

Psalm 121, ESV, King David writing/singing

A Song of Ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

I don’t know where your heart is this Mother’s Day week. I hope it’s full of joy and peace. But if it’s not, or you know those who need this reminder, please consider this: The LORD is as close as the shade on your hand! Call out to Him. Start the conversation. He’s already talking, actually. He’s just waiting for you to consider His presence and your need for Him in your life—

—and for you to start talking too.

*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today on Mother’s Day.

**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-UpMake a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin TuesdaysWomen With Intention WednesdaysGrace & TruthA Little R & RRaRa Link-UpDance With JesusBlessing CountersCoffee & ConversationSaturday Soiree, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridaysand Christian Mommy Blogger.

More anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).


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22 responses to “He Meets Us at the Rails

  1. allycarter1

    May 11, 2015 at 11:20 am

    😄 I know exactly what you are talking about, I have been there so many times. I am so pleased good is gracious to pick us back up again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 11, 2015 at 11:16 pm

      Ally, thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate you saying you could relate. Somehow that always brings me comfort in the sense that we all journey this together and find out how amazing our Savior is in the process. Blessings!


  2. Clare Speer

    May 11, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Sincere and honest post! Love this scripture, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 11, 2015 at 11:16 pm

      Isn’t the Scripture about being the shade on our right hand the coolest, Clare? I had never really meditated on that one before. Thanks for coming by today!


  3. Tasia Boland

    May 11, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I love this! My favorite part is when you said he is right there sitting with you. So many times when I feel the spirit I get so hyper and think ok have to do it now and become disappointed with the results. It is good to be still with God and be reminded he is with us always. Love your writing! Great encouragement!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 11, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      Tasia, wow…I really spent some time thinking about your reflection. Thank you so much! I get hyper about responding too. Other times, I’m like: “Lord, I need a minute…is that okay?” Such an interesting thing to consider. I love that He sits with us and is the shade on our right hand. 🙂 Blessings, and thanks for the encouragement!


  4. Tia Pugh

    May 11, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    This is perfect sis!!! I can’t emphasize how powerful this post is!! Thank you!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!! For letting the Lord use you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 11, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      Tia….you made my day! Thank you for your kindness. I was having a tough day, and I came home to these sweet comments. I feel so passionate about writing about how God is with us in the broken places. My heart daily screams for those who feel isolated, alone, misunderstood, discouraged, broken, wounded. I know those places so well. Don’t we all? Blessings to you for your encouragement!


  5. Sharon

    May 12, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Oh my goodness, Bonnie, I so understand what you’re saying here. Trust me, I had no plans to get sick for Mother’s Day. But, life has a way of sidetracking us, derailing us – and sometimes it just plows into us like a head-on collision. But, these words of yours brought such peace to me:

    “He meets us at the rails.”

    Oh, blessed relief! He does!! And He patiently waits for us, comforts us, helps us get back on our feet. What a blessing to know that He is ALWAYS by our side!

    Thank you for this message of encouragement today. It’s helped me deal with the crazy flu germs that have done their very best to stall me…

    Not gonna!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 12, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      Sharon….thanks so much! Praying you feel better soon! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment in the middle of feeling under-the-weather. I really enjoyed your blog yesterday as well! Blessings!


  6. Mary Collins

    May 12, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Ah, very good thoughts. Whether we are on the rails or off, we can rest assured the Lord is with us. Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 12, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      Hi, Mary….I continue to remember you in my prayers! Love seeing your face on here. I pray every time I see it! 🙂 Thanks for coming by and reaffirming such a beautiful truth that His is always with us. It’s so comforting! Blessings!


  7. Michele Morin

    May 13, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Psalm 121 is one of my “go to” chapters, and I loved the picture you put with it. Yes, I am very ambivalent about Mother’s Day, but you have given me food for thought here, and confidence that God will meet us where we are. Linking up beside you at Women with Intention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 14, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      Hi, Michele: Thank you for sharing that. I am so glad to have found #WomenWithIntention! Blessings to you! Psalm 121 is a forever comfort.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sarah Washburn

    May 13, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, they are so true and a good reminder wherever we are in life. Blessings, ~Sarah visiting from Radical Femininity

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 14, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      Sarah, thank you so much for coming by “Espressos of Faith”! I love the name of your blog site: Radical Femininity!


  9. Olga Deeva

    May 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    What true and lovely words and topics you write about…
    Lovely to be your new reader!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bonnie Lyn Smith

    May 14, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Olga…I really appreciate your kindness! Thank you for joining me here at “Espressos of Faith”! Blessings to you!


  11. Dede (@Sunydazy)

    May 15, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    I really enjoyed this post and you quoted some of my favorite life verses! I have been off the rails so many times I wonder how I ever got anywhere! Thankful that the Lord is always ready and always faithful to help me back up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 15, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      Oh, Dede….I hear you! “Off the rails” is its own destination for me some days. I’m so glad He is with us no matter where we are…on or off. Blessings to you! Thank you for coming by “Espressos of Faith”!


  12. Anita Ojeda

    May 18, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Amen! I’m so glad that he always meets us in our brokenness and takes the time to come alongside us–always there, always ready to pick us up. It’s our choice (and it’s always a good one!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 19, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks for coming by “Espressos of Faith,” Anita! I agree…it’s always a good choice! Blessings!



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