What I learned about Jesus from animal tracks

When I was younger I occasionally went hunting.

As I grew older I realized it was much easier to fall asleep inside on couch opposed to outside in some pine needles and slightly smelling like fox urine. I also found this generally produced the same number of animals killed for me at the end of the day.

Though hunting didn’t really take with me, one aspect of hunting I found really neat was finding marking that indicated an animal had been in the area.

This is perhaps because I rarely actually saw real animals, but regardless finding a sign an animal had been around was exciting and the most of exciting of the signs you could find was always a track. Sorry, deer dropping, there’s just so long I can to investigate you.

You can tell a lot about an animal from it’s track, from its species to its size to even the speed it was traveling when it came through the area.

But what is a track really? It’s nothing.

There is nothing there, there is just the evidence that something was there. There’s just the impression left, the way things around whatever was there were changed by the animal’s mere presence.

When you’re looking at a track, you’re not really looking at a thing, but rather a lot of things that are different because of what they encountered.

I’ve been reading Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus” lately (I haven’t finished it yet, so don’t tell me the ending) and one of the things he writes early on really stuck with me.

To paraphrase, O’Reilly says that no matter what you believe about Jesus, every second of your life is effected by him because it is by Jesus’ birth which we calculate time. All time is either B.C., Before Christ or A.D., Anno Domini, which was is translated “In the year of Our Lord.”

Like it or not, that’s a pretty solid point, and even those who go all “Before Common Era” and “Common Era” in an attempt to distance themselves from this, really can’t get away from the fact the time periods are centered around Jesus’ birth.

A lot of times I try to set religious Travis aside and simply look at the world as is it. Granted, I can probably never rid myself completely of my Jesus bias, but I give it an honest effort. But even looking at the world with my Jesus glasses off, I still see the impression Jesus left on it.

I still see a dating system centered on him. I still see at least one day of the year in which I don’t get mail because of him. I still see one day of the week on which many businesses maintain different hours and/or operations because of his followers tradition schedule that day. I mean, just go talk to the folks at Cracker Barrel about Sunday lunch. That place is hopping from the post-church crowd.

Just on the surface and in the simplest of manners, I can still see the impact of Jesus on the world.

When you think about it, Christian or not, that’s really all any of us can see of Jesus.

I’ve never really seen the dude, I have no idea what he looks like, what he smells like, or what his actual voice sounds like, but I can see the things he changed and the people he is still changing.

Jesus wasn’t an artist who left behind paintings, or a writer who left behind books, or an architect who left behind great structures. Jesus wasn’t a guy who came to create great things for us to study and learn from, he was guy who came to change things and leave things in a different state from the way he found them.

He was a guy who came to change the world, to change humans’ relationship with their creator, and change their relationships with each other.

Now I’m not saying there isn’t enormous value in studying the Bible and other historic documents and artifacts. There is, and I spent a good chunk of my folks’ money doing so.

I’m just saying for me it’s well worth my time to occasionally, and especially when I find myself in those dark places or doubt, step back and simply take in the enormous tracks Jesus left behind.

Even though I can’t physically see Jesus, when I take an honest look at the tracks he left behind, it’s really hard for me to argue with myself that something very large and important was here and I find that comforting.

— @TravisKWilliams


About travman44

I work as a reporter for a newspaper in southwest Virginia. I play as a writer specializing in deep thoughts on shallow, and occasionally not so shallow, subjects. I'm also a former history teacher, bible college alum, and lover of the NBA and kids' breakfast cereals. It's a delicate blend. -- @TravisKWilliams on Twitter
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