You are probably familiar with that old little poem, a favourite of greeting cards, bookmarks and fridge magnets. It talks about two sets of footprints across the sand. The speaker though spots moments when there is only a single track and complains that at the point when life seemed hardest, it looked like Jesus had left them on their own. The reply comes back that those, difficult moments are single track moments because that was when the Lord had carried them.
Okay, I find the poem a bit twee. However, there is a real encouragement there in being reminded that we are not left alone in the storms and trials of life. We have a Good Shepherd who is with us. It’s a reminder we’ve needed these past few weeks. We’ve been hit with grief and uncertainty. The sudden death of my father in law at one end of the country, my mum then taken critically end at the other end and in the middle awareness of a lot of challenges, battles and needs at home.
I’m at risk of believing that I can get through, I can carry the particular burden. It’s when I’m hit from multiple points that I have to admit I’m overwhelmed. Partly, as I’ve said so many times, this is because life circumstances don’t decide to give us a bit of time off to focus on the one problem. Partly though, it’s because we need to learn that lessons that we cannot carry any burden, we are always completely dependent on Jesus and sometimes we need to be brought to the point where we must stop trying to juggle everything.
The Footprints poem is almost good but it can give the impression that the majority of life involves me chugging along beside Jesus doing nicely, just needing the occasional piggy back. However, that isn’t quite it. The truth is better captured by another image. It’s the story Jesus tells of the Good Shepherd who searches for his lost sheep. When he finds that poor, lost, frightened lamb, he picks it up, sets it on his shoulders and carries it home.
I (and maybe you) need that constant reminder that we have a good shepherd who carries us, all the way. We can rest secure in his arms.