The image of a train helps me understand a simple reality of life. We need to have the train cars in our minds in the right order, or things don't work well. The engine needs to be out front. Isaiah 3:12b says, "My people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path." I propose there are three things that we can be the engine of our lives. One is our emotions. The second is our wills. The third is the truth. I have found it important to put together the train of your life in the right order, or you have a derailment.
You've all met people who put their emotions first. When they're up, they're up and moving fast. Their will; or decision making centre; follows their emotions. If they feel like doing something, they do it. And the truth is in last place. After all, "who has any right to tell me what to do". These people can be fun to be with, until the engine of their lives gets down or angry or sad. One of the clearest examples of where this can go wrong is when a young man's girlfriend breaks up with him and his life is crushed. We all have disappointments, but I'm talking about the extreme. The train has derailed. Why? Because their emotions were driving their life.
Well, perhaps we should put our will in front. Our choices are important, after all. You've met people like this. They think of themselves as self-made. They decide to take on a challenge and truth and emotion get behind. After all, "I create my own destiny, I create my own truth" they say. And their emotions follow. This ones a little more dangerous than the first. Because it is true, we can affect our emotions by a decision of our wills. But our decisions only go so far. There are things that are out of our hands. I think of a person who has put all their self-worth in their job or their finances, and then something happens that is out of their control. And their life derails.
Finally, we can put the truth in front as the engine of our lives. When truth is in front, decisions are made from good information. We don't just change our lives by positive thinking or some other psychology, but our choices are based on real truth that is solid and won't change and shift. And our emotions won't be jerked around by whatever path seems right. They will be following things that are right. When temptations come, inviting you to doubt your capabilities or self-worth, the truth about who you are is right out front. You are loved and valued by God. Nothing will change that. So, your decisions and emotions aren't as easily swayed. Sure, we still have times when our emotions can push hard on the engine. Breaking up will always be hard to do. But the truth will keep us on the tracks. Of course, if you're a follower of Christ, you've seen this coming...what did Jesus say about truth? "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). The best engine is Jesus. Let Him be.