A Jericho Road

“A Jericho Road,” Friend, June 1985, inside front cover

A Jericho Road

(Adapted from “Your Jericho Road,” an address given in general conference on April 3, 1977. See Ensign, May 1977, pp. 72–73.)

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. …

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. (Luke 10:30, 33.)

May I relate to you my first journey along a personal Jericho Road. In about my tenth year, as Christmas approached, I yearned for an electric train. My desire was not to receive the economical and everywhere-to-be-found windup model train, but rather one that operated through the miracle of electricity.

The times were those of economic depression, yet Mother and Dad, through some sacrifice, presented to me on Christmas morning a beautiful electric train. For hours I operated the transformer, watching the engine first pull its cars forward, then push them backward around the track.

Mother entered the living room and said to me that she had purchased a windup train for Widow Hansen’s boy, Mark, who lived down the lane. I asked if I could see the train. The engine was short and blocky—not long and sleek like the expensive model I had received.

However, I did take notice of an oil tanker car which was part of his inexpensive set. My train had no such car, and pangs of envy began to be felt. I put up such a fuss that Mother succumbed to my pleadings and handed me the oil tanker car. She said, “If you need it more than Mark, you take it.” I put it with my train set and felt pleased with the result.

Mother and I took the remaining cars and the engine down to Mark Hansen. The young boy was a year or two older than I. He had never anticipated such a gift and was thrilled beyond words. He wound the key in his engine, it not being electric like mine, and was overjoyed as the engine and two cars, plus a caboose, went around the track.

Mother wisely asked, “What do you think of Mark’s train, Tommy?”

I felt a keen sense of guilt and became very much aware of my selfishness. I said to Mother, “Wait just a moment—I’ll be right back.”

As swiftly as my legs could carry me, I ran to our home, picked up the oil tanker car plus an additional car of my own, ran back down the lane to the Hansen home, and said joyfully to Mark, “We forgot to bring two cars that belong to your train.”

Mark coupled the two extra cars to his set. I watched the engine make its labored way around the track and felt a supreme joy difficult to describe and impossible to forget.

Mother and I left the Hansen home and slowly walked up the street. She took me by the hand, and together we returned homeward by way of our private Jericho Road.

Illustrated by Robert Barrett