Monday, April 1, 2013

Leaving Tracks

From Messiah Lutheran Church's April 2013 newsletter

If you’re trying to track an animal, there are many signs to look for. Spot a groove in the landscape that’s already been made. Notice the tracks that are imprinted in the dust. Measure the size and shape of one particular track. Pay attention to how far apart the prints are. Be on the lookout, too, for other signs … broken twigs, droppings, fur, places where an animal may have bedded down. Eventually, you will be able to identify the animal and know where they have been and what they have been up to.

What tracks have you left behind? If someone were to track you and see where you have been and what you have been up to, where would they look? What would these “imprints” tell about you?  Entries in a checkbook. Receipts with the names of items you have purchased. Notes on a wall calendar. Items in your garbage can. The content of emails and texts. The “history” section of your internet browser.  Is there anything there you would be ashamed of if it was public knowledge? Would you want someone “tracking” you down and finding out what you have prioritized in your life?

There was an elderly gentleman at my former congregation who left his tracks. I noticed them every time I visited him and his wife at their home. We would sit down for coffee at their kitchen table. In the middle of the table was a stack of books, on top of which was his Bible. It happened to be the Concordia Self-Study Bible that was so popular before The Lutheran Study Bible was recently published.  But the edition of the Bible wasn’t what I noticed. It was the edges of the pages.They were visibly discolored. You could tell that this was a well-used Bible. It was obvious that this man had spent hours thumbing through the pages of his Bible … and I assume reading the words on those pages. Where all those pages lay together there was a brown smudge. And where you would expect the Psalms to be, right about in the middle, it was black. Maybe it was dark brown, but it looked black from where I sat. You could tell that the Psalms were especially beloved to him. That’s where he apparently turned the most.

Those are the kinds of tracks that I would like to leave. When I look at the edges of the pages of my Bible, they are not as brown as the pages on that old friend’s Bible. I see some discoloration there. But I have a long way to go before they are nearly black. Of course, I own numerous Bibles which get rotated into circulation in my devotional life and study habits, so maybe that’s one excuse why the edges of the pages are whiter than I would like them to be. That’s the excuse I’m going to use for now.

I hope those are the kinds of tracks you want to leave, too ... and all this because of the "tracks" that Christ has left for you and for your salvation: nail marks in his hands and his feet, a pierced side, an empty tomb, the very Words of God in Holy Scripture, water which cleanses, and bread and wine that which deliver the body and blood of Jesus to you. And when you have “travelled” far in God’s Word, it will influence the tracks you leave elsewhere … the choices you make, the time you spend, the money you spend, the love you give to your family, the service you give to others in the name of the Crucified and Risen Savior.

In Christ’s service and yours,
Pastor Onken

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