Tracking is defined as following or pursuing the track, traces, or footprints of someone or something; as making one's way through or traversing; as leaving footprints or making a trail of footprints; or as observing or monitoring the course or path of something or someone. In other words: tracks tell us a story and invite us to carefully observe and detect what went on and which trajectory to follow. Scouts, hunters and forensic detectives specialize in figuring out what tracks have to tell us, but most other people ignore the evidence that footprints leave behind.
When the land is snow covered, tracking is easy. There are footprints of mice, squirrels, snowshoe hares, coyotes and deer everywhere in the woods. And together with other signs such as chewed branches, pinecone debris, nests, dens, scat, smells, sounds, or torn carcasses, they tell a story of life and death, of where the animals walked, where they slept, what they ate, where they raised their young, what they pursued, whether they walked slowly or ran at a fast clip and which direction they were headed.
Tracking employs all of our senses. It requires of us to be fully awake to the world around us. It teaches us so much about life – and not just the physical aspects of it! Even the apostle Paul encourages us to emulate him in tracking Jesus (in Phi.3:12-4:1 MSG), a pursuit that demands a very focused approach and has huge rewards for those who are committed to this vision:
“I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites. But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don’t waver. Stay on track, steady in God.”
This is not the only Biblical passage about tracks.
Talking about Leviathan, a crocodile-like creature, Job says: “He leaves tracks in the mud like a threshing board.” (Job 41:30 ERV)
In the Song of Solomon the woman asks about how to find her lover for a rendezvous, to which she receives the response: “If you don’t know your way, most beautiful of women, then follow the tracks of the herds..” (S.o.S.1:8 CEB)
It’s not just animals who leave footprints: God leaves evidence of His presence (His tracks) behind which we can then detect. David sings about God in (Ps.65:12 CJB): “You crown the year with your goodness, Your tracks overflow with richness.”
And Paul writes in Rom.11:33 (CEB): “God’s riches, wisdom, and knowledge are so deep! They are as mysterious as his judgments, and they are as hard to track as his paths!”
Sometimes tracking is easy, when there are clear footprints in an inch of new snow. Other times we really have to look carefully to see any evidence of the presence of a living being. Tracking God is a lot like that, too: sometimes very easy, sometimes more difficult.
The disciples literally tracked Jesus down at one time: “Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where He could be alone in prayer. Simon and those with Him tracked Him down.” (Mk.1:35-36 CEB)
Another time, the crowds who had just been fed miraculously pursue Jesus, and He points out their wrong motivation for tracking Him down and gives them a higher purpose: “I tell you the truth--you are tracking Me down because I fed you, not because you saw signs from God. 27 Don’t spend your life chasing food that spoils and rots. Instead, seek the food that lasts into all the ages and comes from the Son of Man, the One on whom God the Father has placed His seal.” (Jn.6:26-27 VOICE)
As we are tracking Jesus, we often get side-tracked, even as pastors and missionaries: we read our Bible to get another sermon out of it, or to help someone with a personal problem, or to get insight into how we should deal with our finances, our work situation, or relational issues. We want our physical, social, professional and relational needs met and often miss out on the real need underneath: the spiritual need for a close relationship with Jesus. That’s the food that lasts, the rest will spoil.
So to stay on the right track, let’s keep on tracking Jesus. His tracks overflow with richness of life that lasts.
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We are a pastoral couple named Stefan & Heidi König. We have many years of experience in various ministries, and are thankful that God has given us this property to use as a way to bless others who need a place to relax and reconnect with Him.
Kingfisher Spiritual Direction
Direct your heart to Jesus and restore your soul. If you need to hear from God, to grow deeper with Him, consider spiritual direction. An ancient discipline of soul care, Heidi is trained to prayerfully lead you in this practice.