No, this is not some cute Wyoming variation of footprints in the sand… well, maybe not.
Last night it snowed just enough here in Laramie to cover the sidewalks and streets. So, once again, when I took my dog Suzy for a walk, I was met by footprints in the snow. It’s one of the few small pleasures of walking in sub-freezing temperatures. Like an amateurish Sherlock Holmes, I try to surmise what kind of person has moved on before me. Size 11 boots… likely a man. Long stride… taller than me, or in a bigger hurry than I am. Many have furry companions with them. When the snow-drifts get big, I become more than curious. I become thankful that some-one has done the hard work of breaking the snow so I can literally walk in their footsteps.
Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” -John 1:43b
Discipleship is defined by following others. It is necessary to I am thankful for so many others who have walked the path of life I now tread whose footprints I may or may not see. Parents. Grandparents. Teachers. Writers. Friends. Some, thankfully, are still with me. Others have walked before me long ago and now tread on higher paths. I am thankful, too, for those who walk beside. Sometimes I grumble at Suzy for “making” me walk each cold morning. But she is helping me be healthier. Being accountable to her needs enlivens and improves my life. Sometimes we walk alone and there can be joy in that experience too; but it is often good to have a companion.
Quite often as I survey the footprints in the snow, there are tracks I find that are going in the opposite direction. I do not begrudge them that they are not going my way. After all, they started in a different place than I did. I wonder why we are so impatient with so many in life who are walking in opposite directions from us, demanding that they do it our way. I do not believe that all paths of life lead to the same destination. Nor do all paths have happy ends. Many do not lead anywhere good at all. But one good road may also divide up for a time so that many can eventually can join up on the same journey. I cannot speak for paths I have not tread. I can only say what is good and true about the path I am on and on occasions be the one to do the hard work of pushing through the snow bank so that others that follow might find the walk a little less difficult.
For the wise the path of life leads upward, in order to avoid Sheol below. -Proverbs 15:24