Tracks in the Snow

Challenge Central: a CBC devotional

By: John Kerr

When hunting out west, I was often intrigued by the tracks I saw in the snow. I would try to imagine the story that was being told. An owl was catching a mouse. There was a rabbit fleeing from a predator. There was a family of deer looking for a place to safely bed down. Once, I saw the paw prints of a big cat looking for its next meal. Every set of tracks was telling its own story.

That is what we do; we leave tracks that tell our story.  

We are in good company. The Bible is full of stories of men and women who, in different ways, have left their marks. The patriarchs were prevaricators, cheats and liars, but they became the foundation of the Israelites. Moses killed a man and walked the desert for 40 years before God used him. Samson threw away a life of blessing before he realized his waste. David was a man after God’s heart, but his life was marred by sinful practice. In the New Testament, we see Peter, who couldn’t keep up with his mouth! The apostle Paul let his zeal cause harm to many before he was stopped in his tracks on the road to Damascus. There is even a hint of short-temperedness, which could have affected the spread of the gospel. These are all real people whose lives left their tracks, in this case, in the sand.

One of the most vivid and powerful metaphors I have found concerns the “walk” of the believer. Paul used the metaphor in almost all his epistles. Perhaps because we mostly walk by choice and not by necessity as people of the Bible times, we can miss the intensity of the metaphor. Wherever one walks, one leaves a trail. One powerful illustration, of which many of us are aware,  was described beautifully in the poem “Footprints.” 

As we live our story, we need to realize the effect that our lives have on the world. Many people, who lived simple nondescript lives, have had powerful influences upon some who went on to do great things. For example, a Sunday School teacher had a powerful influence on Dwight Moody, the great evangelist. Only eternity will reveal the power of a mother’s prayers for her children. Many a man has been saved “without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct” {1 Peter 3:2}. 

Jesus challenged his disciples: “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” {Matthew 16:24}. Can you imagine the looks on the disciples’ faces when he said this? Then can you imagine the sorrow that filled their hearts after the crucifixion? Jesus challenged them to be prepared to live a life that would involve personal sacrifice. Where are your tracks leading?

Peter was a passionate man. Just before the betrayal, he indignantly claimed his fidelity to Jesus, while soon after, he denied his Lord three times. But this man was transformed from a rough fisherman to a leader of the early church. Later in his epistle, he said: “because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” {1Peter 2:21}

So, the next time you are outside after a snowfall, watch for those stories written in the snow. Then reflect upon the tracks that your story has told, realizing that you tell a story for all to see.

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