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.
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.
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:
- Post office to mail birthday gift.
- Drop off boys at piano lessons.
- Buy pants for Derek.
- Back at piano lessons. Twenty minutes left, so read book.
- Drive to library. Return books, pick up holds, check out.
- 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.