Many years ago an engineer brought his train to a stop at a little village in Massachusetts where the passengers had only five minutes to get off the train and stretch their legs a bit before the train pulled out again.
“The conductor tells me that the train to Bedford leaves the junction ahead fifteen minutes before we get there,” said a sad-looking lady on the platform to the engineer. “That is the last train tonight to Bedford, and I’m trying to get home with a very sick child. I have no money for a hotel. I simply must reach that train on time and get home tonight.”
“It can’t be done,” replied the engineer.
“Would it be possible for you to hurry a little?” asked the anxious, tearful mother.
“No, Ma’am. I have a schedule, and the rules say I must follow it exactly.”
The woman turned away sorrowfully. But a moment later, she was back. “Are you a Christian?” she asked the engineer.
He looked puzzled. “Yes, I am,” he answered. “Why do you ask?”
“Will you pray with me that the Lord may in some way delay that train at the junction?”
“Well … Yes, I’ll pray with you, but I don’t have much faith that the train will be delayed long enough for you to make your connection.”
Just then the conductor called out, “All aboard!”
The poor woman hurried to get back into the train and take care of her sick child. The engineer quickly climbed to his spot in the engine, and soon the train was puffing its way down the track, climbing the grade. In her seat on the train, the woman prayed for God to help her to reach the Bedford train in time. Up in his seat at the throttle, the engineer also prayed. “Lord,” he said, “delay that Bedford train only ten minutes, and I’ll make up the extra five minutes!”
“Somehow,” the engineer later recalled, “everything seemed to go according to some plan. After I prayed, I couldn’t help increasing my speed just a little! We hardly paused at the first stop. People got on and off more quickly than I’ve ever seen before. In half a minute, the conductor was waving his lantern, and we were off once more. I began to have more faith that we would reach the junction before that other train left.
“Once over the summit of the mountain, it was easy to give the engine a little more steam, and then a little more. I prayed, and the train seemed to shoot down the rails like an arrow. I sensed something was pushing us forward, and I couldn’t hold her back! We came rushing into the junction six minutes ahead of schedule. And there stood the Bedford train! Its conductor was still standing on the platform, his lantern resting at his side.”
Now, these trains never connected with each other. They weren’t intended to; the schedule didn’t allow for it. No message had been sent ahead to hold the Bedford train. There was no reason it should not have left the station several minutes earlier. Yet, there it stood—waiting.
The conductor of the Bedford train approached the engineer of the train that had just pulled into the junction. “Well,” he inquired, “will you tell me what we’re waiting for? Somehow I felt that I needed to wait until you arrived at the station tonight. But I don’t know why.”
“I can tell you,” replied the engineer. “I have a woman on board my train who has a sick child and who must get home tonight. She has been praying—and I have been praying—that somehow your train would still be here when we arrived. And here you are!”
Storytime, Character-building Stories for Children, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 6, 7.