Insight From Isaac (And The Railroad Tracks)

Since Isaac the dog and I moved to West Point one month ago, folks have often asked how my pup has adjusted to his new home. I appreciate all the thoughtful concern and can honestly reply, "New trails and new scents make for happily wagging tails." During the four years we spent in Cleveland, Isaac had a few favorite routes that we alternated. Now, no two days are alike as he wanders new streets and finds new paths. 

Running through West Point is a 3+ mile walking trail built along the old railroad tracks. Every morning, I try to ease Isaac onto the trail. The pavement feels good to my feet, there's plenty of light, and we always meet fellow walkers. None of those factors matter to the unconventional Isaac.  While I love my dog's curiosity, there are many days I wish that he'd stay on the 'rails to trails' walkway. The more I long for routine, the more determined he seems to teach me about adventure.

Today was such a morning. We parked at the downtown park. I pulled toward the trail. He pulled toward Commerce Street. One standoff later, I surrendered to the determination of his nose. Podcast buzzing in my earbuds, I followed my dog towards downtown West Point, then Highway 45. Surely he wouldn't take me towards the 18-wheelers! The closer we got to the highway, the harder I tried to turn him around. And the deeper he dug his paws into the rocky earth.

I decided to trust his judgment for a few more strides. He made a left turn and led me to the local Transportation Museum, located next to the active railroad tracks. Beside the tracks was an open, green field. Dew sparkled in the rising sun. It was one of those scenes I usually see posted on Instagram and declare, "That scene seems too perfect be true." Yet it was perfect. And it was true.

We crunched our way through the grass and emerged onto Broad Street with damp paws and squeaky shoes. Isaac headed back towards the paved walkway, but my mind was still on the path he'd forged on the railroad tracks.

The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,

Which shines brighter and brighter until full day ...

My child, be attentive to my words;

Incline your ear to my sayings.
— Proverbs 4:18, 20 (New Revised Standard Version)

Railroad tracks, whether active or inactive or converted to walking trails, are constants. When we're on a long road trip, we can rest assured that eventually we will drive over railroad tracks. We may not see trains come by as often as we did 50 years ago, but the tracks remain. We may grieve the loss of industry in many of our communities when the trains quit coming, but the tracks remain as reassurance that we are not abandoned. They remind us of how connected we are across distances. They remind us to trust beyond the rails we see right in front of us.

So it is with God's words. God's sayings. God's promises.

When we study the Scriptures today, let us invite the Lord to shine light in new places. Wait for God to reveal new truths to our hearts on the path of righteousness. Venture beyond the comfortable, familiar interpretations. Trust. Listen. Watch the miracles unfold, even when we don't see the end of the tracks in sight.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian (and "Paw-stor" Isaac)

* I listened to the following Paul Thorn song while writing this post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.*