Growing up in the Midwest there wasn’t much of an opportunity to see or experience beaches. For the most part my only exposure as a child was watching some of the beach type of movies. I was early on intrigued by beaches and the ocean that was right there beside the beaches. Truth be told the only large bodies of water I saw as a child were lakes and rivers. Later on during my childhood I finally got the chance to visit a beach and see the ocean.
Now for a kid who grew up surrounded by land mass, to see stand and experience a beach with the ocean well it was a major event in my young life. I remember walking along the beach and looking out into the ocean. That was something new. It seemed that the water stretched out forever. As well while looking out into the ocean I began to walk along the beach and walking in the sand. This as well was a new experience.
While walking on the beach I made it a point to look down at where I was walking. With every step forward I left a footprint. But as well with every foot step going forward there was also one behind me. I feel confident in saying that all of us who have been on a beach have experienced this.
Seeing the vastness of the ocean and the feeling of walking in the sand, as much as anything what has stayed with me from that day was the aspect of my footprints in the sand. Footprints in the sand. There is of course that famous poem. A poem that in fact I have on my wall. In reading it over and over again that poem has always taken me back to that day of observing my footprints.
The poem makes it a point to focus on how our lives are like those footprints. Each of us along this road of our Christian journey has left many footprints. Each footprint represents a part of our lives. It is important in my opinion to be aware of the fact that each footprint is different. No two footprints are the same. At times in our lives some of our footprints may be somewhat shallow. They perhaps represent those times when life was going well. Perhaps in some ways those footprints reflect the best of times.
And there are of course times when some of our footprints are deeply entrenched in the sand. Those times may in fact have been when we were going through the difficult times in our lives. Times when it seemed that all was going against us. Even to the point when it seemed that we were sinking in the sand. Be it the good times or the bad times, our footprints in the sand are there as a reminder. For every footprint that we see behind, there is always another behind that one. Footprints which confirm that though one set of footprints may be sunken deep in the sand, there is always another set of footprints that show that we continued to keep moving forward.
Each footprint in the sand represents an experience in our lives. Be those experiences good or bad they serve as confirmation of what we have been through and as well affirmation that we made it through. But lest we be tempted to think that our footprints are solely the results of our own efforts, I would remind us that yes as the poem states, more often than not the footprints that we may see behind us are not ours, they are the Lords.
Surely there were those times when we did not have the strength to take another step, or did not have the belief that we could. Perhaps it was during a time when the loss of a loved one caused you to come to a stop. Or it may have been a feeling of despair that left you feeling that nobody would be there for you. Those were the times when truly it was not our footprints that reflect in the sand. Nor were those footprints that continued to move forward ours.
For as the poem states, it was during those times that the Lord truly carried us. For each of set of footprints that we have behind us and for those that are to come, God has declared that he will be with us. During those footprints that were a soft brush in the sand, he was with us. For those footprints whose depth seemed crater deep, he was with us. Through it all we have never been alone. Through it all none of our footprints in the sand were entirely ours.
And when we have moments of doubt and find our faith waning let us turn back to Isaiah 41:10. “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Footprints in the sand. Each having its own unique purpose. Though singular at the moment in time they were made, they are but a part of a woven pattern for a time and season that binds them together as we continue throughout our Christian journey. A journey that because of God being with us, we will see not just one set of footprints but two as well. Footprints in the sand that confirm the presence of God yesterday today and tomorrow.
To God be the Glory
Alan T. Black