Next month will mark my 54th rotation around the sun. A time for reflection over passed lessons that I've learned and seek God's wisdom and guidance to where my life is leading.
As I approach the mid 50's, I find myself retired from a job that I truly enjoyed doing. I am, forever, a railroader. But that title doesn't sum up who I am. Yes, I am a railroader; been one ever since my grandfather told me his stories of life on the rails when I was a toddler. And after spending 11 years with the Union Pacific Railroad, I will continue to be a railroader because if you were to spend a small amount of time with me and would ask me anything about railroading, you'll soon know why I wear the title of "railroader"; I've experienced first hand what railroading is all about. Nonetheless, my life isn't all about what happens on two pieces of parallel steel, especially now, since I've been two years away from the job.
If I then cap off my bio with, and I'm a white man" or "man" or "heterosexual" or whatever lesser trait that I'm identified as, would that truly change who I am? Nothing new here, other than a realization that there's so much to a person's character and being, that to simplify their person hood with a one word capstone of, "I'm Black" or "I'm gay" or "I'm a woman" or whatever, seems to do a disservice to themselves. In other words, when a person gives their resume and ends it with, "and I'm (fill in the blank)" I want to ask, could they have done all they have claimed, if they were not whatever adjective they used for their apex of their life?
There's so much more to a person's identity than to just label them by some outstanding trait. And I might add, that those outstanding traits usually become the person's nickname. But nicknames don't tell the whole story; they don't reveal who the person truly is. Let me explain: I'm known by "Red" in most of the places I worked over the years. My grandfather, the one who worked for the railroad and told me his stories, also had a head full of red and he, too, was known as "Red" for most of his life. In some aspect, I do feel honor to keep the namesake, "Red" for the memory of my grandfather, but there's so much more to me than my red hair and if anyone who truly knows me will tell you that. So why do some limit their description to a simple adjective to describe themselves? When God sees you as a stunning masterpiece that he created.
I also understand overcoming hurdles; we all overcome obstacles. But, as my father always told me when I was growing up, "Life's hard! And if someone tells you differently, they're lying to you and want to separate you from your money." Something else about hurdles - they don't stop coming until the day you pass from the world to the next. If you're proud of what you've done so far, then take a look at what you accomplished, then prepare yourself for what will come at you tomorrow and the day after that.
Recently, a song been going through my head, "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin. The song talks about how Jesus overcame the grave and how, if we attach our lives to Jesus's, we too, will overcome the grave and we will rise. When a person limits his life to just one word, the one thing that they can't say is that they have overcome the grave. We might cheer the rugged individualism that is implied by such a statement, when it comes to that last hurdle, the grave, if you don't know the victor of the grave, then the grave will have a hold on you for all eternity. And then it won't matter if you're celebrating an alternative lifestyle, or race or individualism or overcoming some dreaded disease. The Lord isn't interested in what you've accomplished over your life span, he's interested in who you are.
As for me, my summary is as follows - My name is Jim Fulton and I'm a husband, father, brother, son, uncle, friend, railroader, and most importantly, I'm a sinner... save by grace.