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Friday, March 20, 2009

A Streetcar Named Dalhousie

Stellar! Stellar! That’s my opinion of the outstanding way in which streetcars moved people.

Connected by a rod from its roof to an overhead power line, each streetcar whirred along city streets at a good pace and emitted zero pollution. Their high efficiency was marred only when the pole became disconnected. The streetcar came to a halt, and passengers waited for the conductor to prop the pole back into place.

My favorite streetcar was named “Dalhousie.” It traveled from downtown St. Catharines, Ontario, to Port Dalhousie, a Lake Ontario resort town about four miles north of St. Catharines. The ride cost only a nickel, but it journeyed past Martindale Ponds, my favorite fishing spot, and several productive fruit farms.

Back then, Ralph Bell, now retired from the Billy Graham team, was my riding companion. In the good old summertime, we headed for the beach and the midway rides Port Dalhousie offered. After a swim and a few rides on the Tilt-A-Whirl, Carousel, and Bumper Carts, we boarded the streetcar again and rode home. An occasional stall simply gave us additional time to talk about the day’s fun.

Of course, stalling was never the power line’s fault. The power was always available, but the streetcar had to stay connected. Similarly, the Christian must stay connected to God’s power in order to move forward. Progress stalls instantly if the Christian fails to stay in vital union with Christ.

By obeying the Scriptures, yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s control, and confessing our sins we experience God’s power to move forward toward the successful completion of His will. And all along our journey to heaven, we enjoy an unforgettable ride.

© Jim Dyet

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Titanic's Last American Survivor

Lillian Gertrud Asplund, the last American survivor of the Titanic, died May 6, 2006, at the age of 99 in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

Although two or more survivors are still living, they were less than a year old when the Titanic plunged below the Atlantic April 15, 1912. Lillian Asplund, five at the time, could recall the event. Her father and three brothers perished, but her mother and another brother survived with her.

Life is precious but uncertain. Who can explain why so many perished while others survived when an iceberg carved its way into a ship that was supposed to be invulnerable? Who can explain why one human life ends in crib death while another exceeds a century? We may not be able to answer such questions, but we can trust the One who holds all the answers to life’s mysteries and long for a heaven void of tears, sorrow, and pain.

When I read or hear about the Titanic, a couple of personal memories and a humbling question come to mind. My parents, brother Bill, and I crossed the Atlantic in May, 1939, leaving our native Scotland behind for a new life in Canada. Although I was not quite four at the time, I remember seeing icebergs and participating in life-jacket drills. World War ll had begun, and our ship was an easy target. My parents often mentioned later that on its next crossing it was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. So I ask even now, why was my life spared? After all, my parents could have booked passage for the next crossing.

Surely, our lives are in His hands and He has a purpose for them. We cannot determine how long we will live, but to a great extent we can determine how well we will live. If we serve the Lord, we will enjoy the truly good life, full of significance, peace, joy, and awareness of His presence.

© Jim Dyet

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Memorable St. Patrick's Day

Thirty-six years ago our family moved into a home in Lakewood, Colorado. Situated on Green Mountain, it was a comfortable ranch-style house with a partly finished basement. Two months later, an underground stream poured into the basement, and after futile attempts to stop the flooding, we abandoned the house in August and settled temporarily into a small apartment in a church building.

We took a big financial loss but gained a deeper appreciation of the truth that material things are temporary but spiritual things are eternal.

Revelers on St. Patrick’s Day may be oblivious to the fact that St. Patrick was a missionary. His priorities were in good order. He placed what is eternal on a much higher level than what is temporal. Perhaps this is a good day to remember what really counts in this life.