Footprints in the sand
“One night I dreamed a dream, as I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord. After the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it. “Lord, you said once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me.” He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
There is such a beautiful depth to this poem that captures the essence of fatherhood. If we could only let it sink into the depths of our hearts that we have a father in God it would save us so much turbulence on our journey. Granted being part of an increasingly fatherless generation makes the aspect of relating to a father, even The Father that much more complicated. For the record I don’t share this as someone who has figured it out but as someone who is on the deliberate road to.
I imagine it’s like one of those typical AA meeting scenes where everyone has to admit they’re an alcoholic and say something meaningful either about themselves or their addiction. Mine would go something to the effect of “Hi my name is Sharon and I’m an alcoholic,” I’d scan the room half expecting someone from the group to make a face as if its unheard of among all these other people here for the very same thing.
Then I would continue “Alcohol and I have been happily in love since I can remember and I don’t want to let him go”, on I’d go in a well thought out argument to justify holding onto a system that is familiar but damaging. After my verbal love letter to my kryptonite the group leader would ask “…and how has that been working for you?” and finally it would hit home why I was really there. I’m alcoholic synonymous.
The human condition
I guess it’s a thing to hold onto ways that are clearly not working because we just can’t let go or it’s just too painful to deal with the thorns as they are pulled out and we see the blood gushing out from where they used to be because fight/flight mode automatically kicks in even though the bleeding isn’t dangerous but part of the healing. The very thing about us that makes us so resilient is also the thing that makes us easy bait for the enemy when we are relying on our own strength. In this spiritual battle only supreme beings can throw blows at each other and live to fight another day.
When we get in that mix we are easy casualties for our much speaking and little understanding of the power in our words and actions. We are those kids that practically live in the headmaster’s office like furniture and our teachers secretly wonder just what kind of background we are coming from. They make assumptions about our parents based on our behaviour and mannerisms not knowing that sometimes it’s not a parental problem but a kids relating with their parents problem. In the case of relating to God, we hardly know the guy and go on generalised descriptions of Him and his alleged undying love for us.
He fits nicely into a caged corner in our hearts and I suspect it’s because we don’t actually know how to relate with Him. He pays the bills, makes sure we get a good hiding when mom has complained enough, passively nods as we talk his ear off about this and that thing we are so excited about, he is aloof most of the time ready to point out zvaita “mwana wako” to mom whenever we misbehave. The way we’ve been socialised to relate with our biological fathers transcends even to our heavenly Father and the way we see our dads is how we see and relate with God.
If our dads were abusive alcoholics we see God as a mean tyrant, if our dads were hard and emotionally inaccessible we see God as someone who rewards based on his satisfaction with our performance. We need to get to that point of revelation that man’s systems have failed consistently throughout the ages even when he had good intentions. There’s something about flesh that keeps us base creatures whose only difference from animals is our ability to walk upright and wear clothes, but when flesh is taken over by a touch of the spirit it loses self interest and starts pursuing a more meaningful existence.
My prayer today is for the grace to meet and get to know the Father more intimately just because. I don’t want to get a self righteous pat on the back when I impress some crowd of people because I said the right religious slang. I want to know the God behind the man because ndaabho on the man front. Amen