Footprints in the Sand

 

Today we continue with our summer series on favourite verses nominated by members of the congregation.

 

This one is a little different; it is a poem and it was recommended by Trish MacGregor.

 

It is the cross stitch poem framed on the wall of church

 

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 the 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."

 

Trish explains the significance for her

 

The concept I want to pick up from this poem is one which is repeated in the Bible several times: I will never leave you nor forsake you.

 

There was a time that we were not sure that God was a God of his word. Listen to 1Kings 8:57, "May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may He never leave us nor forsake us."

 

It is expressed as a hope rather than an assurance but let me tell you it is an assurance. It is a word of God that we can trust and rely on.

 

Those words I will never leave you nor forsake you

are first recorded at a time when the Israelites were assembled at the River Jordan and on the other side of the river was the Promised Land. For 40 years they had wandered around the desert because of their grumbling and moaning about God and now they were being allowed to enter.  But there was a twist: Moses, their leader would not be accompanying them.

 

Moses told the people: Deuteronomy 31:Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of [your enemies], because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: “Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their ancestors to give them; and you will put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

 

The gravity of that situation – of Moses who had led them right through the desert years not being with them for the final push – required God to actually directly repeat his promise to Joshua who would be leading instead of Moses

 

God told Joshua: Joshua 1:5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

 

What a comfort that was to Joshua! He had witnessed God’s presence with Moses and now the Lord promised to be with him as well. Success was guaranteed because of the person and character of the Lord, who does not fail.

 

We as believers certainly can claim this promise today, because the same words are repeated in Hebrews 13:5.

 

And again Jesus’ final words to His disciples are for us as well: “And surely, I will be with you always even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Surely God’s continual presence comforts and assures us of our eventual success.

 

That does not mean that we will lead a worry free, crisis free life.  Remember last week as we discussed Psalm 23, verse 4 speaks of our shepherd leading us through the valley of the shadow of death, but we do not have to fear because he is with us.

 

Isaiah 41:17  "The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them."

 

Captain John Testrake was hijacked by terrorists in the Middle East. He and the people on his plane were threatened with death. Later he was asked. “What was the most life-changing development to come out of the entire incident for you?”

 

He said, “I knew the presence and the power of God unlike any other time in my life. I felt his presence in the cockpit. In fact, it seemed like there were two of me there. I could see myself standing and talking and making decisions and could feel another me across the cockpit. I knew that God was in that plane.”

 

He said that during the hijacking, he had plenty of time to read the Bible in the cockpit and had discovered Deuteronomy 31:6, which encouraged him: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

When the hijacking ended, he traveled to meet his wife in Germany. When they got to their room, his wife said, “John, I want to show you a Scripture verse I discovered that has sustained me all through the ordeal.” She opened her Bible and turned to Deuteronomy 31:6. After they realized that they had each separately been hanging on to the same passage of Scripture thousands of miles apart, they began to question each other about the hour and the day they had been led to this verse. They had discovered the verse at about the same time. Not for one moment will you be left alone.[1]

 

Isn’t that a powerful story?

 

Psalms 94:14 "For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance."

 

In God’s promise that he will always be with us is a call and a focus and a commitment needed by us too.

 

AW Pink wrote: “Those professing Christians who reason that God has promised never to leave nor forsake us and therefore it is quite safe for us to flirt with the world and trifle with sin, do but make manifest the unregenerate condition of their hearts... If our response to God’s promises be that of sloth and carelessness, that is proof we have received them carnally and not spiritually.”[2]

Old language but it points out that we have a part to play when claiming this promise.

 

Psalms 37:28, For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. "They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;"

 

We cannot wilfully put our hand in the fire and expect God to protect us from the consequences of our actions.

 

We cannot expect God to accompany us into the pits of sin.

 

The promise is not a get out the consequences jail card.

 

But if we fall, or if we make a bad judgement and end up in that place, we can be assured that God is with us. He will not forsake us.

 

Remember the shepherd in Psalm 23 and in John 10, he went out and sought the lamb that was lost.  He did not rationalise and say, “well I have 99, the lost one I will just write off to depreciation”.  No, he seeks out the lost.

 

He seeks out those who get wilfully lost as well as those who stray.

 

Isaiah 42:16  "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[2] Arthur W Pink Gleanings in Joshua 33-34