Saturday, June 10, 2023

 To Follow

I was 16 years old. Snow had fallen and was covering the ground 3 inches deep on the floor of the north woods of Minnesota.  I sat in the wooden seat, 8 feet above the ground, looking for brown furry animals passing through the forest.  It was a cold and wet day and nothing seemed to be moving anywhere…no squirrels, no blue jays and certainly no deer…only an occasional chickadee would make an appearance in the poplar trees nearby.  My dad and two brothers were also in the woods, but by the absence of gunshots in the air, it was safe to assume that they too were seeing no game ready to take down. 

It was our standing agreement that we would reconvene at the camp at noon for a fire and a hot lunch to warm our bones from the penetrating cold of the morning.  I was watching the clock closely, eager to break from the dreary slowness of the day.

As the time approached to climb down, I began packing up my equipment.  Just as I zipped my backpack closed, a rifle shot rang out startling my heart into wakefulness.  The shot was close, sharp and loud.  It could only be from one rifle in the family…Dad.  The 3 of us boys hunted with the dependable .30-30 while our father fired the formidable .30-06.  The contrast between the firearms was notable.  This shot cracked the air, and my excitement spiked as I knew that he was pursuing the game. 

I climbed down and worked my way toward where I heard the shot, but there was no sign of my dad.  There was, however, boot prints left in the snow.  Curiously, however, they migrated in a direction that I would not have expected.  Yet, I followed.  I followed the prints west, and north and west and south and then back east.  As I took each step I expected to come across my dad with a downed animal or at least a blood trail left red in the clean white snow, but all I found were more prints.  Finally, after 45 minutes of following the prints, the trail broke through ending on a road. 

At this time, exhausted from pounding through the brush of the state forest, tired and hungry, I followed the road back to camp, where I found my dad and brothers…and a stranger.  Apparently, the man had been lost in the woods and in efforts to find his way out, fired into the air and began walking at random through the massive Paul Bunyan State Forest of northern Minnesota…and I…chose to follow him.

Interestingly, not only did he not know where he was going, he did not know that he was being followed.  He was leading me…to nowhere. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24, Paul shared a picture of leading and following.  I think that in almost all cases, everyone is both a leader and a follower and if you are not…then you maybe shouldn’t do either. 

A good leader is a good follower and a good follower is a good leader.  A good leader, though imperfect, understands that there is someone greater than them self who is worth pursuing.  Paul shows us that the person who is worth seeking after is Jesus.  A good follower knows that there are people who are looking to them as an example…making them not only a follower…but also a leader.  This reveals the importance of who a leader chooses to pursue. 

May we come to see that Jesus is worth following.  May we follow him in such a way that we can know that anyone walking in our path will be also walking in the path of Jesus.

No comments:

Post a Comment