I stalked him shamelessly. I hounded him, followed his scent, tracked his every move. I kept close on his tail, and I wasn’t even discreet about it.

In the process, I learned so much. Tracking Jesus was a fun and wonderful way to know him better.

following Jesus, Gospel of Mark

I printed out the Gospel of Mark (double-spaced, wide margins, plenty of room for marking and writing). Whenever I came across a “where” I underlined it in orange. In addition, if the “where” referred to Jesus’ location, I added it to my “Tracking Jesus” list.

Jesus' location, Gospel of Mark

I wrote Jesus’ location followed by the verse I got it from in the Gospel of Mark:

… → Jerusalem, into the temple (11:11) → to Bethany (11:11) → they left Bethany the next day (11:12) → to Jerusalem, entered the temple (11:15) → out of the city (when evening came) (11:19) → passing by (in the morning, on the way to Jerusalem) (11:20) → again to Jerusalem (11:27) → …

It seemed to me, Jesus and the disciples had their “main thing” going on in Jerusalem, but they spent the nights in Bethany, using a place there as a kind of base. But their real mission, the nitty-gritty action, took place in Jerusalem. Sleep in Bethany, minister in Jerusalem, sleep in Bethany, go back to the mission hot spot—Jerusalem…

I had my own missions to accomplish. For example, Monday:

  1. Post office to mail birthday gift.
  2. Drop off boys at piano lessons.
  3. Buy pants for Derek.
  4. Back at piano lessons. Twenty minutes left, so read book.
  5. Drive to library. Return books, pick up holds, check out.
  6. Drive home. Make meatball soup for dinner.

Home → Post Office → Piano Lessons → Clothing Store → Piano Lessons → Libary → Home.

The Holy Spirit gave me some nudges. I was too “mission”-oriented. What about the in-betweens (for the in-betweens are places, too)? It was in an in-between transit time that Jesus noticed and talked about the fig tree (Mark 11:11-14 and 11:20-26). He used this time to speak great truths to his disciples about faith and prayer. But, this time around, the biggest eye-opener for me was not so much the lesson itself, but where it happened. The fig-tree incident didn’t happen at what I thought was the “main mission site” (Jerusalem) or even at the home base (Bethany). It happened on the way, “as they were passing by” (Mark 11:20).

When I walk around the library, first to the drop-off slot, then to the shelves, then to the checkout, I don’t tend to notice anything—or anyone—else. Yet people are there—a woman, perhaps a future friend, I could have smiled at; the librarian I see every week but whose name I still don’t know; a potentially good book on a shelf I never stop to browse.

When I drive to piano lessons, I don’t tend to notice anything else. Yet people are there, too—my own sons in conversation.

Yes, I have missions to accomplish, to-do items to check off. But what am I missing on the way?

Are you on the lookout for what God has for you in the in-betweens?

Father, help me pay attention during the in-between, in-transit times, not just when I am at the supposed “ministry destination” or “ministry location.” The comings and goings matter, too.

in-betweens are places, too

by MonicaSharman time to read: 3 min
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