Thursday, January 24, 2008

Forests, Dog Attacks and Discernment

I have been enjoying Tom Brown Jr.’s 1978 book, The Tracker. In it, Brown chronicles his childhood development into an amazing tracker and survivalist. So far, I have read about dog attacks, cabin building, spending days alone in the wilderness, finding lost persons, walking through snowstorms in summer clothes... and all this by age twelve!

One of the principles Brown stresses throughout the book, is that a tracker must spend endless hours observing the forest in its normal routine. In fact, for what others might attribute as some kind of “sixth sense” of approaching danger, Brown has a much more logical explanation. He suggests that when you are so familiar with the rhythm and flow of the forest, you will be quick to notice when some things are missing. Knowing what it should be like enhances your awareness of what is missing or out of place.

For instance, after his first dog attack he writes, “I should have noticed when the birds stopped singing that something tense was going on.” The “something tense” was getting stalked by a near-rabid wild dog!

The same holds true in our Christian life. The more familiar we are with the warp and woof of Scripture, the more quickly our mind will discern teachings that do not line up with the Word. The grade 6 educated Grandma in the back pew may spot a false prophet much faster than anyone else because of this developed “sixth sense.” Although she cannot explain all the terms and complexities of say, postmodernism’s epistemology, she can “just tell” that guys like Brian McLaren are not teaching what the Bible says. Most of what they say does not sing in harmony with what she knows to be true... and she rightly withdraws. She does not know what the error is, but “the forest tells her” that something is wrong.

Are you a person of the Book? Are you reading your Bible enough that it informs your thoughts and frames your understanding to the point that discerning error is less consideration and more reaction? Do you own the Scriptures so that your heart is set free to worship as the Word is ably expounded?

We need to become Word-trackers! Tracing out God’s remarkable story of redemption from start to finish and glorying in Him at every stop along the way.