Last week, in not-so-lovely rainy/slushy weather, my mom and I (and the doggie, of course) went for a walk. It was difficult, with icy slush and puddles covering the roads. We walked our usual route – about two-thirds of the way on the main road and the rest of the way on a quieter dirt road. The dirt road isn’t kept as clean as the main roads, of course, so there was more slush and ice on it. We slipped and slid along our way, zigzagging across the path to try and stay on the parts with the most traction. After getting my feet wet in puddles a couple of times, I started walking behind my mom in her footprints, since she has snow sneakers that don’t get wet like regular ones. As I was doing this, the Patch the Pirate Club song “I’m Gonna Walk” started going through my mind. I began thinking about how my walking a step behind my mom in her footprints was like the way we follow Christ spiritually.
Walking in my mom’s footprints had some definite perks, but also some added challenges. The perks were: my feet stayed drier 😉 and the path was less slippery than it would have been, since I was the second person to walk over it. When there was a slick part, I was aware of it and didn’t slide as badly as I might have. There were no worries about where to place my foot; I knew exactly where to step. On the flip side, the challenges were: I had to constantly watch where I was placing my foot. I stayed close behind my mom so there was never an unoccupied footprint between us – this meant that my eyes had to be focused downward on the road. I had to be ever aware of her gait, ready at any moment for a change in speed or direction. I also couldn’t choose the length of my strides or their speed – I had to adjust the way I walked to the way she walked. Sometimes the strides were a little longer than I would comfortably have walked, and I had to stretch my legs a little; sometimes they were shorter and I had to pull back. I had to conform to the leader’s gait if I wanted to keep my feet dry.
We can find many similarities between physically following in someone’s footsteps and spiritually following Christ. There certainly are plenty of “perks” – if you want to call them that. Following Christ means that the path has already been broken for us; from the New Testament record of His exemplary 30+ years of life on this earth, we can see how we are to act towards others and God, pray, handle finances, regard the government, and much, much more. Certain decisions -such as those between right and wrong- are clear choices for those who know Christ as Savior. For other decisions that don’t involve a choice between right and wrong, we know where to turn for guidance- and if we ask for it in faith, we will receive it. But these added benefits do not come without unique challenges; once we choose to follow Christ, we can no longer go on our own way and thoughtlessly do as we please (and still be happy)- we are committed. Our focus must remain on the footprints of the One who is leading us, or we will easily lose track of the path and go astray, bringing dishonor to our Leader and misery to ourselves. Our hearts must be sensitive to His leading and our wills must be continually deferred to His. We aren’t allowed to choose our own stride length or speed. If He stretches us, we must stretch; if He tells us to wait, we must wait. There is no getting around God.
Following Christ has it’s ups and downs, wonderful times and challenging times, but the best thing about it is that Christ isn’t just leading us, He’s walking beside us and sometimes carrying us as well. He doesn’t ask us to do anything He hasn’t done or won’t help us to do Himself; the path He expects us to walk on is one that He knows well. So wherever His footsteps lead us, we can place our feet firmly in them with full faith that He won’t lead us astray.
I hope you enjoyed this little illustration~ it is by no means perfect, but it was good practice for me to take one of those “Oh, that would be a neat parallel to write about” moments and turn it into reality! It was more difficult than I expected to take a general idea and my scattered thoughts and develop them enough to actually write about, but like I said, it was good practice. 🙂
Thanks for reading!