“..If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the sheep…” Song of Songs 1:7-8
Ever prayed a similar prayer to Jesus the lover of your soul? Ever asked Jesus where he was simply because you want always to be near him? Earnest disciples are not satisfied with just knowing people who know Jesus. They aren’t satisfied with just hearing stories about other’s experiences with Jesus. True disciples want to know Jesus for themselves at any cost. They want to experience him and have their own story with him. This desire consumes every other desire. What desire can compete with true love?
Paul was one of these kind of people and his passion to know Christ was born out in his words:
“I consider everything lost compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…I have lost all things and consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ.”
How do we begin this journey of experiencing such intimacy with Christ?
Well, “follow the tracks of the sheep” In other words look for those faithful servants of God who have gone before you and have left a legacy to follow. Look at a number of them and note their common patterns and disciplines. Many are dead and gone now. If you have the incredible privilege of knowing a living example…cling to them like gold! This is why I read so many biographies of great men and women of God. When I read biographies I don’t look at their accomplishments so much as their initimacy with God. Although, inevitably they have done great exploits simply because they were abiding in Christ. They were naturally fruitful. Take Rees Howells for instance. This poor welsh coal miner was a giant in prayer. It was his primary ministry. His prayers literally shifted the course of events in WW2. He would spend hours and hours on a mountain not far from his home alone with God. He reminded me of Moses with whom God spoke as a man speaks with a friend. Rees Howells would often have conversations with the Spirit of God. It seemed that God confided in him because he feared him(Psalm 25:14) He walked with God, and Rees left footprints behind him for others to follow. Read his biography.
How do we know which sheep tracks to follow?
Good question. There are all kinds of bad examples out their. Let me offer you a few ways to weed out a large majority.
Choose the Tracks of those sheep who have:
1. suffered greatly for the sake of Christ. Few are they who will suffer for what they believe.
2. demonstrated faithfulness to Christ to the end.
3. demonstrated great faith by risking all including their reputation. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.“ Heb 11:6
4. been rejected and opposed. If they rejected Christ they reject his servants too.
5. demonstrated holiness. “Who can ascend the hill of the Lord? Those who have clean hand and a pure heart…they shall receive the blessing of the Lord.” Psalm 24:6
6. demonstrated the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, patience, self-control…etc.(Gal 5:22-23)
7. high regard for the authority of scripture. Look for those who were ruthlessly biblical even if cost them dearly.
8. Humility mingled with boldness
Who do I recommend?
Start with just one. Every single one of these “sheep” will show you what a normal christian actually looks like. Beware! You will be left feeling, in fact, quite abnormal in comparison to them. This can be quite depressing at first. Take heart though. There was nothing “special” about them. They were as normal as you or I. They did not arrive overnight either. But they took hold of God and sought after him with all their heart, mind and soul. That is why God blessed them. How vastly impoverished the church has become! We have settled for so little! Every believer can confidently follow their “tracks” to the heart of God. Of course they weren’t perfect, they had their human foibles and varied theologically on minor issues. But they knew the heart of Jesus like very few men or women in history.
Follow the tracks of the sheep. Set the standard high for yourself from the very outset. Choose the tracks carefully.