The Irrelevant Motorman
When I was a schoolboy growing up in a neighborhood along the north shore of the Houston ship channel, our church house was located beside the Southern Pacific Railroad line. That train line daily drove an empty, outdated trolley up and down its tracks. This trolley without riders was routinely run down the railroad merely to keep its competitor, Missouri Pacific, from getting permission to route its growing bus line down Market Street alongside its tracks. Southern Pacific held that exclusive route.
We kids were fascinated with that old trolley. Everyone wanted to ride it. However, our attempts to flag down the motorman were useless. He never even gave us a glance as we waited and waved for him to stop for us. He had no intention of stopping for anyone. That was not his purpose—not his function. Even though he came down the line tooting his horn and ringing his bell, he was merely making a show to keep away the competition.
No wonder one of my buddies loudly exclaimed, “He’s ‘bout as useless as a rubber crutch.” The motorman was busy, but irrelevant. To us kids he was just a uniformed old man we grew to dislike because he ignored us.
The wise old blind Greek philosopher Aesop told the tale of The Dog in the Manger. While the dog had no taste for hay, he fiercely guarded the stable’s feed trough, not allowing any of the farm animals to come in and eat. He warded off their efforts with menacing growls.
I have met a few religious functionaries like Aesop’s dog. They have no taste for heavenly things, for the deeper things of the Spirit. Neither do they permit the hungry to come and eat. They ward off the seeker with learned words. They are also like the motorman. They are irrelevant. They may have high sounding titles, but they are irrelevant nonetheless.
It’s bad enough to run down the same track day after day, but to do it as an exercise in futility is even worse. But for the motorman, it was his job. I suppose that is how some religious personalities view their role. It’s a job.
All the while the Spirit’s call is to “come and dine.” The Lord is the Good Motorman. He will stop for all who are waiting and call to those who desire to “come aboard, ride this trolley that’s bound for glory.”
“Woe to you lawyers. You have taken away the key of knowledge. You do not enter yourselves, and you hinder those who were entering.” Luke 11:52
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