January first 2016, Ken and I sat in a cold gray morning on a rise in the wilderness of Rocksprings waiting for dawn to come in hopes of shooting my first deer. In the light of a filtered sunrise through damp gray clouds the shapes of several deer dimly appeared before us. Ken, my guide and mentor, motioned me to prepare to shoot. From one hundred yards or more the Texas White Tail deer looked small in the scope of his 30-06 rifle. Through the cross-hairs of the scope the moving mature doe was a challenging target, yet with even breathing, I slowly pulled the trigger.
When the bullet shattered the quiet of the morning, the targeted doe seemed to fly as she bolted away from the area. It violently jumped and twisted in midair to run as far as possible from the awful sound and fear of the powerful rifle. From the distance of our blind, it was unclear if I had hit the deer or merely shocked it with a missed bullet. Had I wasted a shot and my chance to kill my first deer, or was it severely wounded? Yet as we approached the place where the deer had stood, it was obvious the bullet had inflicted a mortal wound. The deer’s blood was sprayed on the ground, but she was nowhere to be found. All she left was a faint trail of blood.
Now the tracking began. The cold and rainless morning was not only good for hunting, it was ideal for tracking a wounded animal. Without rain the blood trail would still be visible and the cold would help preserve a dead animal. Ken the experienced hunter, began to quickly look for traces of blood on rocks, grass, twigs and brush. His keen eyes picked up on the smallest of detail. I on the other hand, inexperienced and ignorant of the process, concluded the deer could not have run far with THAT much blood loss! I quickly and foolishly ignored Ken’s methodical detailed experienced tracking for a quick solution and walked in circles! He graciously cautioned me to look for the blood as it was the only sure sign we had, and also not to trample on any possible evidence as we could easily lose the fallen animal. Yet I, the novice, scanned the whole field smugly thinking surely a bleeding deer could not have gone far. I continued to walk in circles as Ken systematically called my attention to yet another drop of the deer’s red life on a blade of grass or rock.
Finally I began to listen. Ken had me wisely mark the last sure proof we had found of the deer’s path. I placed a “duck” in the location of the blood spot before we moved on. This gave us assurance we were on the deer’s final run. [A trail “duck” is three rocks pile up in an obvious man-made pyramid with the largest rock on the bottom and smallest on top.] The deer had run beneath cedar trees, through brush and yuccas giving us a challenging path in its attempt to elude its inevitable death. Her hundred plus yard scramble took her about a minute, yet it took us thirty to forty minutes to find her final resting place in a yucca patch.
Ken skillfully field dressed the deer, and I now have fresh venison in my freezer. Yet as I reflect on the hunt and specifically the tracking of this beautiful animal, my lack of skill was in sharp contrast to Ken’s experience and knowledge. In searching for the direction of the deer’s path, Ken knew what he was doing, and I was ignorantly lost. Without his guidance, I would have never found the animal. Through this experience, I was reminded about the way God leads us … or tries to lead us!
If you want direction from God you must understand it is a process. Just as I needed Ken’s expertise in tracking the wounded doe, we all need God’s guidance to receive spiritual direction! In my lack of knowledge, I walked in circles trying to find the deer until I started listening to Ken.
Ken, like the Spirit of God, was patient to show me what to look for and then to mark it with a “duck” so we could establish the last point of truth. Each time a new spot of blood was located we looked for more in the same direction, but if the trail ran “cold” then we marked that spot to regain our confidence until we found the next bit of evidence. This was an accurate albeit a tedious and detailed process. In the end, it proved the desired results. Slowly with Ken’s guidance I became a tracker helping to find the way instead of someone circling about with good intentions wasting time lost in my own ideas.
God wants us to be a good “tracker” of His Spirit, learning to follow His thoughts and ways. If we want the best direction for our lives we need God’s direction for us.
In Galatians 5:25 Paul wrote, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” We who are believers in the Living Christ need to understand the discerning of His direction and stay in step with His Spirit. We need to learn to listen to our Guide and to mark the last sure word God has given us. Then, when we have our “ducks in a row” we will be able to move with Him and in the power of His Spirit.
Are you lost walking in circles? Are you seeking God for direction? If you are willing to follow His guidance He will lead you to the Word of Truth and reveal His path for you. You must learn how to mark the truth with a spiritual “duck”. For you, just as the “duck” had three stones piled up, there are three parts to marking God’s trail.
First we must receive God’s word as a WORD from God! If you want the Word to lead and guide you, you must receive it as personally from Him. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 makes it clear that when we receive the Bible as God speaking to us personally, He is able to work His will into our lives. It reads, “And we also thank God continually (for you) because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” Too many people read the Bible like any other book. The Bible is God’s book and is alive and active in us when we trust the God who wrote it.
Second, Psalm 199:11 tells us that we must “hide it (God’s word) in our hearts”. Memorizing God’s word is not an option if you want to know His will. If Ken had not insisted on marking the trail we might still be seeking a downed deer. But by now it would be lost to me as a consumable food. How often do we lose the nourishing Bread of Life because we do not “hide it in our hearts”? Only as we memorize and reflect on His thoughts repeatedly do we begin to comprehend what God is saying to the deep places of our hearts.
Third, we need to act by waiting. No, that is not double-speak. Isaiah 40:31 tells us to “wait on the Lord”. When we feel our way is hidden, then we need to wait on God’s grace to give us direction before we act.
“Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
If we trust our Guide by receiving His Word and marking it with a spiritual “duck” meditating it into our minds and hearts, God’s direction for our lives will flow in and through us.