Footprints in the Sand
One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand:
one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him
he looked back, at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life
there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:
“LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you’d walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life
there is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”
The LORD replied:
“My son, My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you,
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
We didn’t have much growing up, but one thing my father refused to cut back on was our faith. He took me to church every weekend; it was our routine. Hand in hand we walked as I stared at the weeds poking up through the abandoned railroad tracks.
We would stop to sit on a set of park benches on our way home. As I fed the ducks and geese, my father would explain that God had so much love to give that he created everything we see.
Young as I was, I struggled to grasp the mysteries of God. I still remember my thought process: if God has the capacity to love me more than anyone on this earth, then that must be a whole lot because I have no doubt how much my father loves me — it’s in the way he teaches me to learn and grow from his mistakes…it’s in his smile…it’s in the way he worries that one day he won’t be there to take care of me anymore.
Since my father didn’t drive, we had to deal with the elements. Sometimes, to get out of the rain on our walk home from church, we would stop to eat with the money he had been saving. I considered it such a treat. I know those times meant a great deal to my father too because he used to reminisce about the way the waitress smiled when I ordered a “hambinger.”
My father’s love was tangible. I could feel it on my face like the warmth from the fires we used to have on cold winter nights. It comforts me to this day like a hug I can feel, though the embrace remains unseen. My father’s undying support has allowed me to persevere during some of the toughest of times.
I used to feel guilty for such a blessing. I later came to understand that the bond I shared with my father was all part of God’s plan for me.
When I grew older, I started to relate my father’s love for me to ordering off a menu like the one at the restaurant we frequented on those rainy days after church. Some days you’re hungrier than others. Whatever the reason, sometimes you get your fill on a small order of fries when, on other days, it takes a medium portion to make you feel just as satisfied.
Well, God had to supersize the impact of my father’s love because He knew I needed a larger serving. Unbeknownst to be me, God wanted to make sure I “didn’t go hungry” in the physical absence of my father — we would only be given so much time together. God allowed me to feel and know love in a helping so big, it would last me a lifetime.
At times we need love more than we are able to give because we haven’t gotten our fill yet. Other times we feel full and can thus share our love with others so that they too might have their fill. When things are going well in our lives, it’s easy for us to dish out medium- and large-sized portions of love.
And there are those times when we’re hungry but share our food with others so that we can all feel better, although we ourselves are not necessarily full. We eat enough to sustain us until our next meal.
Regardless of the size of love we hand out at any given time, it can have lasting effects on others. Like sharing the talents God has given us with others, it’s in God’s plan to introduce others in our lives who need love or can bestow love upon us when we need it the most. Being there for others isn’t always easy, but choosing to be there when it’s hard or inconvenient is the very essence of love.