Hidden Traditions

aboutIt was there all along. I just didn’t see it. In accordance with my inquisitive wiring, “Aha” moments make a huge impression.

Crisscrossing West Texas since early adulthood, I know the layout of the roads. I don’t need a map—not because I am male—but due to familiarity.

Texas State Highway 83 shoots to the top of my familiar list. The description “countless” underestimates the number of times—and the number of cars—I’ve steered up and down Highway 83.

Three years ago, we buried the body of our 33-year-old son in the peace and quiet of West Texas soil. The call of Highway 83 is now intense as we visit his grave in a grief process that will end when Jesus raises the dead.

The trip before last something caught my eye.  A raised bed of vegetation ran parallel to my familiar road. At times the plants, weeds, and small trees disappeared to show an elevated gravel bed.

With my male blindness gene, the old railroad bed was there all along—I was the one who hadn’t seen it.

The hidden railroad has the makings of a Jesus parable. Had Jesus walked West Texas in the 21st century, he wouldn’t have resisted. It perfectly illustrates the work of tradition.

It would not surprise me were I to learn that the railroad preceded the highway. In Texas history, that was often the case.

Tradition is like that. Good ideas attract.  A company lays a railway bed, workers nail down the rails, trains begin, and someone has the brilliant idea to add a highway to parallel the tracks “so we can drive our own car.”

One piece upon another—I build my life upon tradition.

Like tradition, the old train bed is there. Even though I hadn’t noticed it before, it was always in sight.

Since birth, I moved into the stream of tradition. Many traditions are rich and wonderful. Many traditions honor God. Without tradition, I would be a poor soul indeed.

There are also harmful traditions. My definition of a harmful tradition is any action entering my DNA that hides Jesus from me or block Jesus from the sightline of others.

Here is what concerns me.

A hidden line of traditions parallels my life.

Like the overgrown Texas Highway 83 railroad bed, I follow unseen traditions. It is only when I begin to recognize the fact of their presence that I can evaluate good traditions from harmful ones.

Are there traditions in my life that create a super magnetic field keeping my soul needle from pointing true north?

Do we have traditions in our churches that hide Jesus from others?

Does my daily walk rely more on the railroad bed of traditions than upon Jesus as eternal truth?

Do the traditions of our local groups of believers keep us from honoring Jesus’ heart in His desire that His church be one?

Just maybe—if I were to examine more closely my own hidden tradition bed—I might conclude that my set of “thus says the Lord beliefs,” flows more from tradition than from the Son.

Wouldn’t that exercise make me a greater participant in creating unity in the body of Christ?

Stay tuned.

Gary J. Sorrells – Reflecting on Cross Church


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About Dr. Gary Sorrells

From birth to death, I am God-wired. My body is not as energized as in earlier times, yet as my soul runs toward the finish line it carries a dream. I want to give glory to God by writing. Only now is the timing right to lean hard into this gift from God. For the first time in life, the totality of my God walk with family, the church, academic training, work experience, life scars, and accrued wisdom, provides value to share through the written word. It is as if all of the trails of life are crossing at this point. My formal education includes the B.A., M.A. and the Doctor of Ministry degrees in Bible from Abilene Christian University. Between 1980 and 2011, I worked with the Non-Profit entity, Great Cities Missions. I currently serve as Director Emeritus and as a member of the Board of Trustees. -Gary J Sorrells Gary@GodReflection.org

2 thoughts on “Hidden Traditions

  1. Thank you for this post Gary. This made me think of the verse in John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” I know Christ was speaking of the type of death he was to die, but I am reminded to each day lift him up that others may see him more. How great is our God who has overcome sin for us. How sad, in the least, he must be when we put our opinions out to mankind with the weight of Scripture. How thankful I am for the freedom to think out loud on this blog that we can work out our salvation together with others in order to stay on course. I will seek to be all the more vigilant today.


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