Many of us have heard, read, or even quoted the famous poem titled “Footprints in the Sand.” It speaks of someone who had a dream and saw footprints in the sand representing their life journey. At times there are two sets of footprints and at times only one. The dreamer asks God why in difficult times God leaves him and he only sees one set of foot prints. The poem ends like this:
“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.”
Author: Carolyn Joyce Carty
Many, many people have taken solace in the idea that during the really tough times God carries us. The Psalmist said something similar in a prayer. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever, Psalm 28:9.
But why does God need to carry us? Recently my wife and I were walking on the trail and the water from the rain was running across the trail. She didn’t want to get her shoes wet so she asked me to carry her across the running water. That makes sense. So, why does God need to carry us? I suggest three reasons we need to be carried.
First, I believe God needs to carry us because our character brings us down. By nature we are selfish and in all our relationships we hurt one another. It happens. The conflict and pain we feel or inflict on others drags us down. Sometimes into deep messy pits. Other times we learn to hate ourselves and that hate drags us down. We behave destructively towards ourselves. We are filled with depression, sadness, and inner darkness. Only God can lift us up and put our feet upon a rock so we can stand on solid ground. See Psalm 40:2. God must carry us when our character fails us so we will know grace, love, and forgiveness.
Another reason we need to be carried is because it is a harsh world out there. Life is so unpredictable. Today’s dreams for tomorrow can be shattered in a second. We hate to admit it, but we are usually one phone call away from needing to be carried through the next crises. Most of the time we live each day believing that we are in control but life has an amazing way of knocking that pride out of our heads. In those moments we don’t know what to do, where to go, and even what to say to God in prayer. So, God carries us. At least God offers to carry us. Some become so filled with the darkness of sudden change that they refuse to let God carry them. They plunge deeper and deeper into the pain of the tragedy, sickness, or loss. On the other hand, the Bible is filled with heroes who turned to God in great moments of sorrow and pain and discovered the power of God to carry them through the darkness. In life’s unpredictable moments we need God to carry us.
And finally, the third reason we need God to carry us is death. The great hope birthed in Easter is that even if we die we shall live because Jesus lives. I often think about what it must be like to “fight life’s finale war with pain” as the old song of Gather’s says and then have Jesus take your face in his hands and invite you to go with Him to Paradise. To be lifted up out of the tomb of life, to lift up our broken bodies, to raise our souls to eternal peace, joy, and love. What a great day to see only one set of foot prints in the sand.
God promised, I have made you and I will carry you, Isaiah 46:4. You might notice that hope in the sand.
The writer is the senior pastor at Sidney First United Methodist Church, Sidney.