The Stumbling Block — The Tram to de Panne en Panne: Fearless Victory! Part 5

by | May 7, 2016 | Eternity, Fear, Fearless Victory!, Persistence, Victory

The coast of Belgium has a fascinating electric tram system connecting the eastern border of the country with the western border. It serves as a popular means of transportation for the locals, as traffic can be heavy and parking is at a premium. But what happens if one of these trams breaks down?

We had just visited the lovely town of Sluis in the Netherlands and were passing through De Haan on our way back to Oostende, when our tram screeched to a sudden halt. The momentum sent us all tumbling forward. Now there’s a good way to get everyone’s attention!

Strangely enough, there was a tram stopped on the tracks in front of us, and all of its passengers were standing on the sidewalk staring at it. The sign on the back of the tram read “De Panne”. De Panne is the town near the far western end of the tram track, and this was, obviously, the ultimate destination of this unfortunate vehicle. Interestingly, the French expression for “broken down” is “en panne” … We had to smile about the tram to De Panne being “en panne”!

But our smiles didn’t last long. We would later learn that the tram to De Panne had suffered a technical problem, and our tram driver, who had run forward to the rescue, wasn’t successful in getting the De Panne tram back up and running. There was a pretty grim look on his face as he climbed back on board.

We all looked pretty grim as well. We were stuck behind a broken down tram, and there are only two tram tracks: our blocked track, heading west, and the one designated for eastbound trams! We were certain that our fate would be eventually the same as that of the passengers in the other vehicle!

Our tram driver didn’t give up though, and he actively pursued communication with his home office. All of a sudden he ran towards the back of our tram, and before we knew it, we were moving backwards! He had discovered a connection between the east track and the west track, not 100 meters behind us. Once we bypassed that connection, he jumped out of our vehicle, fiddled with the switch, and climbed back on board, at the front this time. We were soon moving forward, bypassing the tram to De Panne, that was “en panne”, only now we were on the track for the trams headed in the opposite direction!

When we passed the De Haan tram station, we were surprised at the number of people who were eagerly waiting to come on board, but I have to admit, we were all feeling pretty smug. After all, after you’ve been stuck behind the tram for De Panne, that was “en panne”, the worst has already happened, right?

Well, maybe not …

But that will be for another story!

Too often we find ourselves in similar situations. We face discouragement, addictions, failures and disappointments. We find ourselves stuck in the rut, with no hope to be seen. Where do we go from here?

At that point, we have two options: We can let our failures conquer us (A good way to become really discouraged and ineffective for the Kingdom) or we can conquer these failures and move on. If we do nothing, then we let discouragement conquer our soul!

But how can we conquer failure? Since we have already failed, doesn’t it mean we are not very good at it?

I’m sure the tram driver felt the same way when he wasn’t able to help his broken down colleague. But did he give up? No! And neither should we!

Too often we forget that we are in a battle: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Tim 6:12 NIV)

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12 NIV)

All too frequently, we surrender to the enemy of our soul. Have we forgotten that the evil one does not have our best interest at heart? That his ultimate goal is our complete destruction? Maybe we don’t realize that continually surrendering to the enemy means spending eternity in far worse conditions than the ones we live in now!

We need to ask ourselves: Which side are we really on? The winning side? If yes, why don’t we act more victorious?

Who is really in control, anyway? The answer really depends upon who we decide to trust! Do we place our trust in the one who continually discourages us from reaching our potential? Or do we place our trust in God, who will give us victory?

The way we respond to the enemy’s attacks will either strengthen our faith or weaken it. It will either give God greater or lesser glory. It will either lead those around us to trust in Jesus, or to not trust in Him. It will either invigorate us to fulfill our purpose on earth, or discourage us to oblivion. Our decision has huge consequences overall!

God is really the One in control. The attacks from our enemy are limited in scope and duration (See 1 Cor 10:13). The attack will come to an end, but the one who will actually be in control of our life in the end depends upon our decision!

“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” (Isa 59:1 NIV)

Will we remain stuck behind “the tram to De Panne that is ‘en panne'”? Or will we declare, “Victory in God’s name”, refusing to give in to the enemy of our soul, and bypassing the wreck that kept us in despair?

Will we let the temporal hinder our view of eternity?

P. S. Funny thing, if we don’t give in, people will be attracted by our victory!

Rob Chaffart

(To access the entire “Fearless Victory!” devotional series, please click here.)


The Stumbling Block — The Tram to de Panne en Panne: Fearless Victory! Part 5