The Tree and the Train Station

The Tree and the Train Station

I parked my truck in a small patch of shade in the Home Depot parking lot.

I was between appointments, and I had a sudden urge for an encounter with God.

As I slowed my breathing and invited the Spirit, my mind was drawn to an obscure place from my memory. I could sense the Lord drawing me there, so I gave myself to it.

I sat between two train tracks, in a large building. The space was loud and chaotic, with people hurrying in all directions. There were screens mounted on the walls, filled with information on all the lines with their many stops. A constant voice on the loudspeaker called for attention as he spouted what seemed to be urgent messages about changes and deadlines. This was a major train station in London.

I sat with luggage all around me. I could feel the contagious anxiety in that place, An array of concerned thoughts filled the air…

I’m gonna be late!
Am I where I’m supposed to be?
Will I have what I need for where I’m going?
Where am I going?
How I wish I could go back

This train station seemed to be an accurate picture of my present life. The diverse daily demands that bombard my mind from my varied responsibilities. The never-ending decisions that fill the screen of my attention, always pulling me to consider the future. Yet here I am, waiting between the tracks.

I sat among the luggage, taking in the scene of my present reality. Anger rose up within me as I thought about how much I long for simplicity.  Yet I knew I was in the right place, "This is where you have me right now." 

Grief overtook anger as I accepted the reality that God had me here. "But I'm not fully here Lord. I'm distracted, desperate to be somewhere more... settled. But I want to be here, Lord. I want to give myself to this space that you've put me in." The pressure began to release as the tears flowed. "I can't make myself be here. I need you to help me. Give me the grace to be here with my whole heart."

I let out a loud sigh. "Okay Jesus, if you're really here, show me."

As I looked to my right I noticed a large window interrupting the wall. Sunlight poured in through the branches of a tree just outside the station. I could feel the warmth of the sun as it filtered through the leaves, the shadow of the branches dancing softly along the cold concrete floor. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the scene just beyond the window. 

Suddenly I sensed a shift within me. The noise began to give way to something more powerful. I became aware of a realm beyond the train station, unhurried and unbothered. There was a stillness in that space, no care could touch that tree. It simply stood there, absorbing all that it needed from the rich soil in which it was firmly planted.

I was witnessing the Kingdom of Heaven. I was witnessing the place where Jesus abides, and it was penetrating the station where I sat. I watched as the dancing shadows stretched on across the concrete, overtaking the luggage around me. The noises of the station became muffled, silenced by the stillness and peace of that other world.

As it happened I realized that I had become so numb to God's in-breaking presence in my life. My awareness had been stifled by an oppressive belief that there was no room for God in this busied place. Then I heard the voice of Jesus.

"I have a way of breaking into these kinds of places."

The voice was so utterly confident, I was embarrassed that I hadn't believed it. Sorrow and joy mixed together as a prayer of repentance spilled out of me. "I'm so sorry Lord. I haven't expected to find you here." I could sense His kindness, as firm as His confidence. This wasn't a reprimand, it was an invitation. Jesus has as much confidence in my ability to perceive Him, as He does in His ability to break in.

Expectation began to stretch itself, filling my inner being. God is here, I can meet Him here! Why would I rush to the next stop? As long as He's here, I'm right where I want to be. A confidence was spreading through me. The complexity of my life isn't hostile to God's presence. God hovers over chaos. I could learn to perceive His presence in the midst of the noise, and my perceiving Him is what positions me to impact the noise of my world with the solace of another.

I opened my eyes. I was back, in the shade of a small tree in the Home Depot parking lot. In the rear view mirror I could see the large box in the bed of the truck. I'd need to install that toilet fairly quickly, in order to pick up the kids from school. Within the pressure was an invitation to leave the peace I had just fought to regain. I declined. If Jesus could meet me in a train station, He was more than capable of installing a toilet with me.

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