As the oft quoted “Footprints in The Sand,” goes,
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints.
Other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life
When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord, “You promised me, Lord,
That if I followed you, you would walk with me always.
But I noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
There have only been one set of prints in the sand.
Why, When I have needed you most, you have not been there for me?”
The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints
Is when I carried you.”
Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7) recently Hulk smashed this quaint little poem for me. Christ, the eternally Good Shepherd, loses one of his sheep. He doesn’t shrug His shoulders and say, “well 99/100 aint bad,” and passively go about his day. He ceases His work, pins up the other sheep and puts on a full front search party for the one stray sheep.
He pulls out all the stops for the one. Goes the furthest lengths, climbs the highest mountain, clears the thickest bush.
We’ve all heard it. Especially the last verse, after a succesful altar call: “Give a handclap, the angels are rejoicing right now!” (Luke 15:7) And they are. In some cases I’ve seen it used to guilt trip a celebration out of the audience, “Come on people, the angels are rejoicing, is that the best we can do?!”
The verse that most recently popped out to me is Luke 15:5. Not only does Christ take the initiative to find His lost sheep He goes much further. He picks them up. Carries them. And rejoices over the whole process.
Salvation is not just once being lost and now being found. It’s being found and being carried by the strong shoulders of Christ. In grace He found us. In grace He is carrying us. Where we start in His new life is where we will finish. Back over the mountain. Through the sharp thorns. Past the dark wolves den. Over the tempestuous rivers. Through every season of weather.
Back to safety.
We’re not following along side Him. There are no accompanying hoofprints or footprints. We’re being carried, no matter the quality of times, good or bad.
Look at Luke 15:5 again. He’s not pissed about our stupid straying. We’re not heavy to him. He does not begrudge this carrying. He rejoices in it. It’s not a burden for Christ carry weak, lame, dumb sheep like us. It is His delight.
As we’re being carried He’s celebrating.
And when He gets back to the pen, He’s not complaining about the journey (Luke 15:6). He’s not a disappointed dad incessantly bringing up the sheep’s shortcomings. He’s not, “Dang, this little turd is one stubborn dense animal.” He brags about the sheep He found. He flaunts his finding to his friends. That one sheep is like a precious diamond to him. Worth the treacherous journey.
Not inherently worth more than other sheep.
But worth based on the invincible love of the Shepherd.
We’re lovely and worthy, because of the devotion of the worthy and lovely Shepherd who has sought us in the Gospel.
There’s always only one set of footprints in the sand. Forevermore.
Christ is joyfully carrying us now. Trust: He never puts us down. Until safety.