The Great Train Wreck of 1918

On this date in 1918 what has often been called the worst rail accident in U.S. history occurred in Nashville, TN. It took place when the No. 4 train from Nashville collided at full speed with the No. 1 train from Memphis. 101 people were killed in the wreck and more than 170 were injured.

In the ensuing investigation it was found that the No. 1 train was 35 minutes behind schedule. Because of this, when the No. 4 train came through the last checkpoint before the wreck, the tower operator waived them through with an “all-clear,” not realizing the No. 1 train had not yet come through. By the time the error was discovered, the train had passed and there was no way to get word to the engineers on either train.

At that time, the train engineers were absolutely dependent upon the tower operators for information about whether the tracks were clear to proceed. They had to maintain absolute confidence in them and trust what they had received because they had no way of knowing the information personally.

Unfortunately, many people do the same thing spiritually today. They take the word of their friends, family, or preacher as the truth for what track they should take. As long as they get the “all-clear” from that trusted source, they believe everything is okay.

What if those sources are wrong? It may not be intentional on their part, but it can happen. Will you know of the danger ahead? Will you be able to change course? That is why John wrote of the necessity to test the things we are told to make sure they are from God (1 John 4:1). The Bereans did this (Acts 17:11) and were commended for it. Do not make the mistake of taking someone else’s word as a substitute for what God said, always check it out for yourself.

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