The Little Train That Wouldn’t

We are all probably familiar with the children’s story of “The Little Train that Could.” It’s the perfect story for young kids, and the moral of the story is exceptional – you can’t overcome unless you try. When you try, it may seem impossible, but ignoring the crowd and pressing on, you can overcome difficulties. 

As I said, it’s a great story. But have you heard the story of the little train that wouldn’t? There’s a good message in this story, too.

The Little Trains

The air that morning was crisp, so Mr. Conductor pulled on his denim jacket over his striped blue overalls. Putting on his conductor’s hat, he cocked it ever so slightly to the right and then walked out of the train station. Mr. Conductor ambled over to the switchyard early that morning. The train tracks looked so bright and shiny because of their daily use. On today’s crisp, sunshiny day, the polished tracks looked like silver ribbons scattered across the switchyard. They made Mr. Conductor very happy.

All the little trains were polished and repaired the night before. All were ready for service, and all were on their own train tracks. All were in the same excellent condition. Mr. Conductor looked them over, and they made his heart feel good. He loved these trains.

When the trains saw Mr. Conductor, they each cranked up their engines and tooted their horns. They were excited to begin the day’s assignments. Mr. Conductor read out loud the train schedule so each little train knew the part they would play in making their customers happy and Mr. Conductor proud of them.

The train engines Juan, Amy, and Jimmy each heard their names as Mr. Conductor read off the day’s schedule. The little engines were eager to get started. Juan had a hefty load to deliver to Awesome Creek. Amy had a load that would easily break, so she would need to use all of her skills to make her delivery to Fine’n Dandy. And Jimmy was given just one rail car to pull. It was small and would be easy to deliver to Master’s Crossing.

The Little Trains Begin Their Adventures

Mr. Conductor was careful to get each train engine connected to their rail cars. Stepping back, Mr. Conductor was filled with pride for each of the train engines. Looking at his pocket watch, he saw it was time for them to get started, so he changed the signal on the railroad tracks to “Go.” Juan immediately groaned under his heavy load, but he knew Mr. Conductor wouldn’t give him more than he could pull, so Juan tugged and pulled, and soon he was heading down the tracks.

Next, Amy began her journey. Amy had to be very careful as she started pulling her fragile load. Slow and steady was the only way she would be able to deliver her cargo unbroken, but she wasn’t worried. She, too, knew that Mr. Conductor would never ask more of her than she could endure. So, ever so slowly, Amy began her journey.

By this time, Mr. Conductor had walked back to the train station. He hadn’t stood outside watching the little trains because he trusted them and he knew they each had received the best assignment for them.

When Mr. Conductor sat down in his office chair and looked out of his office window, he was concerned. Juan and Amy were already out of sight, but Jimmy hadn’t moved at all! Mr. Conductor hurried out of his office to the railroad track that Jimmy the little Engine was quietly sitting on.

Trouble In The Trainyard

“Jimmy,” Mr. Conductor called out, “why haven’t you started your trip to Master’s Crossing? You’re going to be late and disappoint the mayor and townspeople.” Jimmy huffed and blew out a massive blast of steam, but he didn’t say anything. 

Mr. Conductor asked again, “Jimmy, why aren’t you going to Master’s Crossing?” Jimmy replied. “Mr. Conductor, I don’t think I can, and I don’t want to get in trouble with you. If I pull this load, I may not get to Master’s Crossing on time, or something in my cargo might get broken.” 

Mr. Conductor was sad. He said, “Jimmy, you’ve made me sad because you don’t trust me to take care of you. You know I gave you this assignment because I know what you can do. Why would you doubt me?”

Jimmy, the little train engine, was sad because he knew Mr. Conductor was right. Mr. Conductor called out to Jake, the engineer, and some trainmen to disconnect the rail car from Jimmy and connect it to the little train engine, Raj. Then Mr. Conductor asked Jake, the engineer, to please park Jimmy back in the rail yard. Jimmy would miss out on his adventure today because he wouldn’t trust Mr. Conductor.


Matthew 25:29 (ESV) – The parable of the talents
For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Photo by Claud Richmond on Unsplash

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