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Kurt’s Story: How a Railroad Spike Saved My Life

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During Kurt’s early adulthood he was filled with a sense of loss and confusion. He was feeling disillusioned with life due to overwhelming college debt, the unexpected divorce of his parents, a string of broken relationships and a general lack of direction. Kurt found himself in full retreat as he moved in for the second time into a house on 140 acres with old friends known for throwing large parties, collecting firearms and living fast on one of the six motorcycles they owned.

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At first, Kurt felt at home on familiar ground with friends he had known all of his life. He had known several of them since he was a toddler and they had passed through almost all of the “rights of passage” together into manhood. They were all struggling to find their way as young men and these guys had been through it all with Kurt. He didn’t consider them simply “roommates.” They were brothers he could count on who were always there even when his relatives abandoned him. However, even these tight relationships, frequent parties and free living could not stop the ache in his heart and the constant questions in his soul for something real, trustworthy and sure. He dug deeper within himself and stopped asking the questions, “What is my career path?” and “Who is Mrs. Right?” to something more primal. He began to ask the questions that all men must face. “What is the reason for my existence?” and “Is there a God?”

Kurt began to think about his friend’s parents that were still together and how they always attended church. One couple seemed to have an inner joy, peace and direction that his parents and he had never had. He decided to take an unusual chance, follow their lead and started to read the Bible on his own. He would often go on long walks for hours in the woods and take his Bible. After a period of a couple of months, he found himself sitting on a 50 foot high train trestle thinking what it would be like to fall off. The train tracks were one of his favorite places to sit and think. They marked the border of the farm and over the years he and his buddies had hitched rides on the passing trains and even raced across the high trestle to safety as they passed. They would ride their motorcycles down the tracks to get to a neighbor’s farm and it was a favorite place to perform “ballistics tests” with their various rifles.

As he was walking over the creek bed on the trestle something caught his eye. When he got to the other side he picked it up. It was an old, rusty railroad spike. As he walked home with it in his hand his mind wandered to the book of John he had just been reading. Suddenly, he felt a warmth in his heart and a tear in his eye. He stopped to look at the spike and imagined what it would feel like to have it stuck in his feet and hands. In that moment, the life of Jesus he had been reading about came alive and from deep within his belly he heard, “I bore your pain so you don’t have to. Come to Me.” He stopped, dropped to one knee and looked for John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV).
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This simple encounter on a train track set Kurt onto a course that he has never strayed from. At the other side of the trestle, the track divides. One way goes straight and the other curves. In the middle of the two tracks sits and old, rusty, and bullet ridden switch. The very one that Kurt and his buddies had been by hundreds of times in a drunken stupor. It was if the Lord was calling Kurt to take a new way home that day. Kurt began a journey with God near that old train switch and that is why he named his first project, Made the Switch. It still stands there today as a silent testimony of God’s love for you, for Kurt and for his lifelong buddies on the farm.

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