Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Footprints from here to there...

So sorry for the two week absence from posts. Maggie (my daughter) and i have been on a much anticipated mother-daughter trip for the past 2 weeks driving all over the mid-west. The Rockies have mesmerized us ---- and filled my head and heart with images that are waiting to be put into words. So - here's the first outflow after 12 days and 3000 miles of "seeing" His creation and "hearing" His whispers. May the writing of it be a blessing and inspiration to you --- and pleasing to Him. :)

Great Sand Dunes National Monument sits ominously in a wedge between the San Luis Valley and the Sangre de Cristo Range of mountains on the lower edge of the Great Rockies. The dunes cover thousands of acres, rise 750 feet above the valley floor, and are believed to be about 12,000 years old. In my 4 decades of breathing, i've never even heard of them ---- but they are one impressive sight and one daunting hike on a windy day.

Maggie had heard about them and was intrigued enough to add them to our itinerary of stops. We were mentally blown away at the sight of them and almost literally blown away as we crested their highest peak. Other hikers were lingering on the lower dunes because of the strong winds that day, but we felt challenged to go further, we wanted to feel them from their highest peak --- and so neither the wind nor the solitude held us back --- we pressed upward.

I encouraged Maggie to go on ahead of me -- and not wait for her tired (feeling her age) mother. The wind was blowing so strongly we were unable to talk anyway --- and so it was the perfect opportunity to talk a lot with God --- the Maker of the sand pile under me and the wind bearing down on me. It took two hours to summit (doesn't sound like much -- but with the conditions -- it was intense).

With Maggie pressing on ahead ---- i was reminded of the poem we've likely all heard "Footprints" written by Mary Stevenson in 1936. The poem speaks of the journey in life, and refers to the single footprints seen on a beach when times had been most difficult. The author laments over the single set of footprints and the sense of being alone during the most trying, painful times only to realize the single footprints were the times the Lord had carried her --- leaving only a trail of His footprints as she had been held securely in His arms.
It's a moving poem --- and known worldwide.
So as we hiked up this mountain of sand ---- and as i followed Maggie's trail of footprints --- i thought to myself and talked with God.

I asked Him if in the next chapters of my life --- moving to Kenya, leaving home and loved ones here ---- i asked my Father if He would be carrying us, if there would be only one set of footprints? For certainly the journey seems quite daunting and much "bigger" than this little daughter can fathom.
My Abba was very quick to respond.
It was a tearful trek --- as He whispered to my heart.
"I will carry you when it is needed --- but first --- I will go before you and leave footprints for you to follow. I will not ask you to go anywhere or do anything that I have not already walked through or done ahead of you. Your main task is to follow my footprints. Obey me. Don't shrink back. I'm already walking in front of you ---- and I have called you to fit your feet in the tracks I'm leaving for you."

As i climbed the mountain of sand and wiped tears over the intimate talk with God --- i playfully followed Maggie's footsteps --- something i use to do with my grandmother when following her around like a duckling on her farm. I remember once she stopped and laughed at me --- and hugged me ever so tightly --- as i playfully placed my little feet inside her much larger footprints. It was a game to me, and i clearly remember singing as i followed her. She was touched, i suppose, by my playfulness --- and paused to enjoy my play.
You see --- she was the one with the mental list of expectations for the day --- she was focused --- she had work to do and a timeline to consider.
I, on the other hand, had nothing on my mind but following her footsteps through the mud to the chicken house and then doing whatever she asked me to do when we got there. I didn't know we would leave the chicken house to go to the garden and then continue on to wash and prepare vegetables in the kitchen.
I only knew that she was leading and i could follow --- without concern over tasks, time, or outcomes.

I loved those times.

God brought it vividly back to me as i hiked the ridges of the great sand dunes in Colorado.

The tasks and timeline and outcomes of the work ahead ----- are all on His mighty shoulders. He knows the plans He has ---- and my mind is not equipped to manage or contain them.
My assignment for the months and years ahead are exactly as they were with my grandmother in my childhood days.
"Just follow me donna --- just put your feet in the tracks I lay before you ---- just be rested and ready to do what I ask you to do ---- just sing to me along the way," He whispers to my soul.

As i hiked that ridge line i realized --- that behind me there would only be one set of footprints --- even though both Maggie and i had walked the same path. Likewise ---- if i follow my Father carefully, placing my feet only where He has gone before me and guided me to follow --- there will only be one set of footprints and they will be HIS. There may likely be no evidence that "i" had traveled there at all --- hopefully this will be the case --- because that will mean -- that the evidence of HIM will remain long after we've traveled the fullness of the path.

When my footprints traced my grandmother's steps --- her larger footprint was all that remained in the mud -- since my much smaller foot fit easily inside her track.

Oh --- may it be likewise in Kenya --- and in Georgia --- and at the summit of the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado.
May it be true wherever my feet carry me.
That He would lead and i would only follow after Him.
That what remains afterward would be evidence of His presence.
That i would focus on following and obeying --- not setting the agenda or creating the plan.
That i would sing as i follow --- and not worry about what is ahead.
That He would pause from time to time, and hug me closely ---- that my obedience would bring Him joy in the journey we are on together.

Climbing the sand dunes was hard --- i had to stop often to rest and catch my breath ---- :)
Should we expect anything less as we follow the path He lays in front of us?

We're not here for "easy" --- we're here for what matters. And HE is the One who defines what matters.
So will the path be easy or comfortable? I'm thinking no.
If our path is easy and comfortable --- does that mean we've been tracking the footprints of Christ?
But will there be joy in the journey?
With a big handful of His Robes --- yes.
It will be the sweetest path and the one with the greatest view at the end. Just look at those majestic mountains on the other side of those hot, dry, windy dunes. He's got the map and the plan for getting there...

"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." Psalm 119:105

"Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths." Psalm 25:4

"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11

"My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled." Psalm 17:5 (may it be so for me Lord)

"I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding." Psalm 119:32

Photos taken by Maggie at Great Sand Dunes National Monument, CO.


  1. i needed this reminder because i am facing BIG changes at work and don't want to fret about them. often i think of God in the midst of my circumstances, walking beside me, but i rarely remember and respond accordingly to the truth that He has gone before me.

  2. So touched and blessed by this today! Thank you! I am struggling with finding my place in God's big story and knowing where He wants to lead me and feeling frustrated when doors close and no opportunities in ministry seem to be panning out when I know God has placed this huge desire in my heart to serve Him in working in His ministry full-time. Not by my plans but His, not my will but His, not my idea of the path but His. He is so amazing and big and knows better than any idea or dream I could ever have. Such a sweet sweet God we serve!