Don’t Jump Off a Moving Train in a Tunnel

Don’t Jump Off a Moving Train in a Tunnel November 3, 2021

“Light at the end of the Metro tunnel,” Chris McKenna (Thryduulf), Creative Commons

Last Wednesday, I had a flashback to a conversation with my wife Mariko in January or February. It was soon after our son Christopher sustained a devastating brain injury. We were standing in the kitchen and I told Mariko that I was done with ministry. I couldn’t go on. We both broke down. She pleaded with me to keep going. She said Christopher told her how he respected me and what I do—how could I give up and throw in the towel? Mariko encouraged me to keep moving forward and not jump off the train.

Jump off the train? What does that mean and what was the context of the flashback yesterday? Let’s start with the context. I was chairing a forum last Wednesday morning on community economic development for the center I direct on integration and cultural engagement at my university. This was the first public forum we had done since COVID hit. All our other events that I have overseen since COVID took place on Zoom. It was great to be back in action with people in public. I was in my element. I went to the back of the room for the keynote speaker’s presentation (By the way, he and the panelists were phenomenal; refer here for more information). During his talk, tears came to my eyes as I suddenly recalled the flashback memory of my conversation with Mariko. I told myself then and there at the back of the packed room that everything I do is for Christ and for Christopher. Further to the last post I wrote at this site on “Chariots of Fire” and Eric Liddell, I remembered Liddell’s line in the movie: “When I run, I feel his (God’s) pleasure.” When I host conferences and forums, edit the institute’s journal, write blog posts and books, teach, mentor, and interact with others on my interdisciplinary work involving theology and culture, I feel Christ’s pleasure. I also feel Christopher’s pleasure.

Two of my dearest friends and ministry partners, Bob and Cooky Wall, were at the forum. We spoke afterward about the event and the flashback I recalled. Bob said in response, “Never tear up your ticket and jump off a train when it’s in a tunnel. It’s going somewhere.” When you’re moving through life at a high speed and darkness envelops you, it’s never good to make rash decisions. Wait until the moving train comes into the light of day and you can get your bearings straight. Then determine if you wish to get off when the train comes to a stop.

Last night, Mariko saw Christopher smile when she praised him during range of motion exercises in his room at his facility. I smiled when she told me this news in our kitchen later in the evening. I also smiled when she said Christopher’s nurse informed her that our son turned his head twice yesterday to look at our nurse when he spoke to Christopher.

My family and I are still on this train moving down the track in a dark tunnel. But every once in a while, whether during a forum I am hosting, a post I am writing, or hearing of positive signs in Christopher’s condition, I see light. One thing’s for certain, though. It’s not wise for me to tear up my ticket for what I am called to do in life and jump off the moving train. It’s going somewhere. I don’t always know where. But I would no longer feel Christ’s pleasure, or Christopher’s pleasure, if I jump. All I would feel is a thud.

To read the various posts related to my family’s unfathomable journey on life support with TBI, please go to this link. Thank you.

About Paul Louis Metzger
Paul Louis Metzger, Ph.D., is Professor of Theology & Culture, Multnomah University & Seminary; Director of The Institute for Cultural Engagement: New Wine, New Wineskins; and Author and Editor of numerous works, including Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church (with an afterword by John M. Perkins) and A World for All? Global Civil Society in Political Theory and Trinitarian Theology (co-edited with William F. Storrar and Peter J. Casarella). You can read more about the author here.

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