Tracks in the Snow 2017

At this time of year many old favorite programs from years past return to the airwaves.  So souletosoul joins that tradition.  Many years ago I wrote this basic story and submitted it to the Huntsville Times newspaper.  It was printed and that paved the way for several later columns in the same newspaper.  I then used it as one of my very first souletosoul blogs in 2012.  And now I share it again:

This is a strange year for snow.  As November comes to an end, much of the country is snow-free.  If you do not live in the mountains of the West or the northern part of New England, you may not have any snow at all.  Normally, in the great white north, snow comes in November and stays to early March. One vivid memory of that time happened during Thanksgiving weekend in the early 1970’s. My roommate from the first two years of college got married in St. Paul on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and after the festivities we headed north to Park Rapids, Minnesota, 200 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, where my father-in-law was in the hospital after a heart attack.

Snow had fallen all day and was beginning to mount up. The wind was light, so there was no problem with visibility until we reached Wadena, and headed north on U.S. 71 for the last 35 miles. It was a major north-south highway, but, as we left that com­munity, ours was the only car on the road. The road went through a sheltered area where the snow had piled up in the ditches and it was impossible to see the road edges. The only clue was a rapidly filling set of tire tracks that had been left by another vehicle trav­eling the same direction some time before. We followed those faint tracks for several miles until we came to an area where the road became more visible. I said later that if that vehicle had driven into the ditch, we would have followed it in. Fortunately, the driver had stayed on the highway.

That started me thinking about the tracks we follow in life. Most of us follow someone’s tracks. If the tracks lead us to our goal, we will arrive safely. If they vary from the track, we may get lost, or worse, may be hurt or die.

And someone else may be following the tracks we leave as well. We need to real­ize that we could be the only ones leaving a safe trail for some of our neighbors and family members.

Each of us has many sets of eyes watch­ing what we do and whether it is consistent with what we say. Do we practice what we preach?

There was a commercial a few years ago in which a green track guides people who work with a cer­tain financial institution. The agent warns the client, “Stay on the track.” That is excel­lent advice, but in life the track is not as obvious. How do we know we are on the right track?

As a Christian, I have one guide. I try to follow where God, through the Bible, leads. Sometimes it is not as obvious as I would like. There are no neon signs in the sky proclaiming, “This way.” Unlike the Magi, there is no star to guide us. But we have God’s Spirit available to us to help us understand our guide-book. Sometimes it is as difficult to see as the faint tracks in the snow I followed so many years ago. But if we look carefully, we can see the path.

And remember there are others who are following us as we make our way along the path. Let us leave tracks that get others to a safe destination as well.

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About edwardsoule

The Rev. Dr. Edward A. Soule is now a retired United Methodist pastor who served 28 years as a minister in churches around the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. Before that, he was in Christian radio for 10 years and was a Baptist minister for two years. Over the years, Ed has also been a teacher in public schools, a private school principal, and taught at a Bible college. He has a B.A. from Bethel University, St. Paul, MN; a M. Div. from Bethel Theological Seminary; and a D. Min. from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH. Ed has been married to Deborah (Mendelson) for 32 years. She is the executive director of Partnership for a Drug Free Community. They currently reside in the Hampton Cove community of Huntsville, AL, where Ed enjoys walking with their dog, Churchill, daily and keeping up the landscaping. "Dr. Edward" is available to speak to churches and other groups, pulpit supply, and interim work in the north Alabama/southern Tennessee area. Contact through this blog or directly at edsoule@comcast.net.
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