“. . . footprints . . .”

“The crash of your thunder rolled out, and flashes of lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
 You walked through the waves; you crossed the deep sea, but your footprints could not be seen.
 You led your people like a shepherd,
with Moses and Aaron in charge.” (Psalm 77:18-20)

During the last couple of snowfalls I was surprised to see just how many different animals were making a highway through our yard.  I saw tracks for deer, dogs, rabbits, squirrels, and the birds in the photo above.  There were even some mystery tracks that I couldn’t identify.  Just a few moments before I took this photo I watched a news story that reported the capture of a couple of thieves who had broken into a home and robbed the owners.  The police recovered the stolen property and caught the thieves — simply by following the thieves’ tracks in the snow from the scene of the crime to their home.

The internet is a powerful source of communication.  I guess I’m part of the first generation that has grown up with some of the most radical inventions in communications like television and the internet.  One of the things I’ve learned about the internet is that we leave our footprints wherever we go.  I’ve had more than one person in my counseling office who was in trouble because they visited sites on the internet where they should never have been, thought they had erased their indiscretions, and then later were caught and punished because they unknowingly left footprints on their computer.  It is still a very difficult lesson to teach youth and some adults today – that every move they make on their computer leaves footprints.  Whatever they say or post on the internet will be there forever for all to see.  Whew, that’s pretty heavy when you stop to think about it.  Imagine that you’re a fourteen year old teen who impulsively says or posts something on the internet, wishes later they could take it back, and then anxiously lives the rest of their life with the knowledge that their indiscretion could come back to publicly humiliate them at any time. 

Maybe it’s not as different today as we might think.  I guess we’ve always been told by those who loved us that our actions leave footprints.  Maybe there’s a threat that’s worse than our footprints leading to our own downfall or destruction.  Maybe the worst threat is that others might discover our footprints and follow them to their own destruction.  In order to do some of the unhealthy or sinful things we do, there’s a way in which we almost have to convince ourselves that no one is looking, that we’re leaving no footprints, that no one will know – not even God.  Maybe we don’t necessarily stop to think about it but I suspect that’s the case.  Since we know it’s wrong in the first place, we have to hide the potential consequences from our selves and others.  Even if we’re doing something unhealthy or sinful with others it’s almost like we collude together to pretend that it’s not really going to have any negative consequences for us.  Yet we forget that we always leave some sort of footprints. Either footprints that lead in a healthy direction or footprints that lead in a destructive direction.  Footprints . . . we just can’t hide.

When the psalmist describes the wonder and majesty of God in the passage above, one way he chooses to distinguish God from you and me is to note that God did all those wondrous things — but left no footprints.  In other words, it’s taken for granted that part of being human is to leave footprints.  I pray that as I move forward God will help me leave footprints that lead others toward light instead of darkness.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on February 5, 2014.

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