You Can’t Eat Tracks!

 My oldest brother (age 80) was here for our annual rifle hunt together. We had some beautiful hikes, covering about 40 miles in the mountains over the five days.  We did see some doe deer and a couple cow elk, but you can only shoot bucks and bulls, so we did not fire a shot, which means we didn’t have all the work of getting an animal out of the woods(!), but also that we didn’t provide any meat for the table.  Since there had been some snow the week before, we were able to at least see tracks to know if there was anything around. I have Peterson Field Guide Animal Tracks book (by Olaus J. Murie), so we had fun identifying all the tracks we saw each day: moose, elk, deer (whitetail and mule deer), bear, wolf, coyote, grouse, turkey, squirrel, weasel (ermine in the winter), bobcat, pine martin and cotton tail and snowshoe rabbits.  Unfortunately, we saw wolf tracks almost everywhere we went, which accounts for the reduced number of deer, elk and moose we get to see around here.

     While it is kind of fun to see all the tracks, it doesn’t help to fill your deer and elk tags. You can’t eat tracks!  (Oh, I guess you can buy some “Moose Tracks” ice cream and I believe there is some “Bear Attack” ice cream as well.)  Tracks are only evidence that the real thing exists and has passed through.  But until you see the animal making those tracks, you go home empty handed. As I pondered that, I thought of how so many people only follow Jesus’ “tracks,” but never meet Him personally and gain eternal life. They may read the Gospels in the Bible and study the life of Christ, His miracles and His teaching. They may even go to Israel and “walk where Jesus walked,” hearing about what events took place at each site.  They may attempt to gain heaven by following the example of His life and by considering in each situation, “What would Jesus do?”  Well, good luck with that!  The Apostle Peter wrote in his first epistle, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am Holy'” (I Pet. 1:15,16 cf Lev. 11:44,45). If you are banking on your attempt to follow Jesus’ example for your eternal life, you’d best reconsider, for that means you have to be totally without sin–as He was, and that you cannot accomplish. James wrote: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (Jas. 2:10).  Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3:23).  That is, no matter how hard we may try, or how “good” we may appear, we all fall short of the standard, which is the holiness of Christ. That is the standard by which we will be measured if we decide to have God judge us based on our performance, and the verdict will always be “guilty.”
     Trying to make it to heaven by following Jesus’ example and being the best we can be is like our following tracks of deer and elk. We brought home no meat.  Jesus, on one occasion, told the Pharisees “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me, and yet you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life” (Jn. 6:39,40.  There is no life in the Scriptures, but they will lead you to Him (Jesus) in whom is life eternal.  Scriptures are like the animal tracks. They lead you to the One who “made the tracks,” for it is only in a personal encounter with Him that we gain eternal life. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (Jn. 14:6). Eternal life is in a Person, Jesus Christ. It is not in a creed, it is not in trying to follow Jesus’ “tracks” by doing what He would do. It is only through trusting Him as the One who died in our place, for our sin, and rose again. John wrote: “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (I Jn. 5:11,12).
     You might be really hungry and thirsty, and have before you a freshly baked loaf of bread, and a glass of cold milk.  Ooh, it looks so good and the bread smells so good!  But, you could sit and look at that bread and milk all day and it won’t help your hunger or thirst. It will just accentuate it. Well, a lot of folks just look at Jesus, “the bread of life” (Jn. 6:35) and “the Living Water,”  but never partake, and remain hungry and thirsty. Jesus said, “He who comes to Me shall not hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (Jn. 6:35; 4:10).  You can’t just try to follow Him and do as He does, you have to come to Him, admitting you are a lost sinner, and believe in Him as the only One who can save you through His death, burial and resurrection. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn.5:24). You see, just trying to be like Jesus (“following the tracks”) does not make us righteous. There is only One who is righteous, and that is Christ. When we receive Him as our Savior, then we have HIS righteousness.  “But by His (God’s) doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and RIGHTEOUSNESS and sanctification, and redemption” (I Cor. 1:30).  That is the only basis upon which any of us will be allowed into God’s perfect heaven, by having the righteousness of Christ credited to our account. “He (God) made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteous of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).
     Have you come to Him and believed in Him for eternal life, or are you still trying to “follow tracks”?
                                                                                            Forever His,
                                                                                                    Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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