I remember the first time I sat at the table and watched my father run the transformer that would make this train come alive. With a push of a button, he would make the train go this way and that, backwards and forwards, whistle and when the engine got hot enough the smoke would begin to bellow out as the train went around the track. We spent many hours changing the track to make bigger layouts, add moving cars, scenery and then the big day came…it was my turn to run the engine.
Slowly he showed me which levers to move, how to move them ever so gently, to make sure the train didn’t fall off the track going around the curves. Many hours were spent working the trains but also time spent talking life. If it wasn’t for a man name Joshua Lionel Cowen, I wouldn’t have had those memories and learned about life.
Joshua Lionel Cowen was born in 1877, just before Edison’s first electric light. He grew up with real trains and enjoyed them. He grew up to become an inventor and in 1900, he founded Lionel, a model train company for boys and men to play with. Cowen would spend a lifetime stoking America’s imagination with the romance of the rails. He told boys that Lionel would prepare them for adulthood. Soon dads were encouraged to join in the fun of model train enthusiasm, to future father –son bonding.
As I read Joshua Cowen’s story, I couldn’t help but think of the relationship between men and young boys. How having someone there to show them the ropes, makes the difference in the decisions we make as men. Most boys will imitate what they see men do, they make heroes out of men who step up the challenge of life and sadly those who do not.
I am reminded that even Christ had something to say about what He did as a Man. In the Gospel of John, chapter 5 verse 19, Jesus answered by saying ,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
Young men, seeing what their fathers and what other men and women do, will imitate them as they grow up, so it is important to make sure that we are setting the example of what God the Father set before Christ. One that is honoring to God, one that is sharing our gifts and talents, one that shows we care.
The track of life will have many turns and twists like a model train layout and a young man can easily fall off the tracks but if we have an engineer like Christ had, God the Father, we can help keep them on the right track of life.
-Tom Sember is the former men's ministry director for the New York District of the Assemblies of God. He currently is a men's ministry speaker and author and works closely with Mantour Ministries during our Mantour Conferences. He also publishes a daily devotional for men. To connect with Tom or to receive his daily devotional, email him at email@example.com