The picture above is Norfolk & Western Railroad car 402. I saw it in its current state at the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue, Ohio. It was built by the Roanoke Shops in May 1941. It was built to serve as a Safety First Car (safety inspection car). It still has that label on the side of the car. It was retired in February 1969 and sold to the Luntz Iron & Steel Company. I don’t know what purpose it served with the steel company or how its journey brought it to Bellevue. Many of the cars that the museum receives are gifts from individuals or organizations, hoping that one day the museum and its dedicated group of volunteers can restore and preserve them. I saw many cars at the museum that had been restored to a beautiful condition. I imagine that one day it will be car number 402’s time for restoration.
I am not a rail car expert or mechanic, but it looked like the structure and undercarriage of # 402 were pretty solid. Eighty-two years take a toll on a steel car. Time, use, and exposure to the weather left the exterior faded, rusty, and even crumbling in spots. The march of time has a definite effect.
The march of time also has a definite effect on humans. Despite efforts to stay healthy through diet and exercise, aging takes place. Bones weaken, muscles lose tone and flexibility, and skin loses elasticity. Even worse, we experience aches and pains that a railroad car simply cannot. We tend to think of the end of our earthly lives as relief from the bounds of our physical problems and weakness. Upon our physical death, as believers our souls or spirits will join Jesus in Paradise. We can look forward to the day when at the second coming we will be presented a new physical body to live a physical eternity in Heaven. Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:20-21:
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
What exactly will our resurrected bodies be like? After His resurrection Jesus still looked unmistakably like Jesus to His followers. However, His body was no longer subject to the decay or damage that physical life on Earth could cause. We can expect the same for our bodies.
“So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, NIV)
When I think of the challenges and pains my earthly body has experienced it is hard to imagine what my glorious, spiritual, Heavenly body will be. Considering God, I am sure it will be better and more glorious than I can imagine, like Heaven itself!
Take heart and be encouraged!