Sunday, October 25, 2009
Throwing the Switch
The impression of that short video clip remains with me.
It starts at the outskirts of a small American town, dated approximately sixty years ago. It is summer time and a father is leaving the house for work. He bids a good day to wife and pre-teen son.
The scene shifts to a stretch of railroad and a long trestle bridge over a gorge. The bridge has two distinct tracks each contained with safety fencing. Part of the one track is down for repair and the father is assessing the job.
At the north end of the bridge a tall stand of trees borders the rail line as it executes a gentle curve leading to the small clearing at the gorge's approach.
Scene shifts to the household again and mother has noticed that father forgot his lunch for the day. The son responds, "I thought I heard Dad say that he was checking out the trestle bridge at rail mile 237. That's only an hour's walk from here. I'll take it to him." The boy is then shown happily hiking the rails through some pleasant countryside. Finally the bridge appears and he sees Dad at the far end approximately two football fields away. He shouts a greeting and hops on to the long structure.
But then the father's facial expression changes. He hears an approaching train still obscured by the trees. It is the eleven o'clock passenger run from upstate. He looks at the rail switches and notices that the train is being directed toward the damaged track. His son is well out on the bridge on the other rail, effectively walking a corridor of death.
The scene shifts to the interior of one of the train cars full of happy travelers of all ages, shapes and sizes, obviously unaware of the imminent peril. The timing of the video now picks up a pace and one sees a succession of faces registering shock -son, father, locomotive engineer. The train has emerged from the trees only yards from the bridge, and the father takes one last tearful look at his boy as he throws the switch, directing many lives to the course of safety at the cost of the life of his son.
The screen goes black and silent and the text appears:
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.