Have you ever considered your footprint? I don’t mean your carbon footprint or the unique fingerprint-like lines on the soles of your feet. But have you ever considered that every time you walk somewhere you are leaving something behind?
The other day I was unloading computer supplies at one of my schools. I must have made four or five trips. During one of those trips, I noticed a damp impression of a tread left on the concrete floor. “Wow, that’s a wild pattern. I wonder who those belong to?” I thought. Then I noticed the same pattern impressed into the snow by my car. Yep, they were mine. I guess I don’t pay much attention to the tread on the bottom of my shoes.
After that quick realization, I looked around and there were tracks everywhere molded into the snow. Every one of those impressions indicated that someone, whether in a car, truck or on foot had passed by. We also leave tracks behind as we walk in this world, often invisible but nonetheless still there. While it’s not good not to dwell on the past it is also good to look back and consider what we are leaving behind. Paul encouraged the Ephesians, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1–2, NASB95) And a few verses later, “Therefore be careful (look carefully) how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16, NASB95) All this leads to a question, what impressions are we leaving behind us?
We can’t help it. As we walk along in this world we are leaving behind impressions of ourselves. Patterns of dealing with conflict. Impressions of what things are important to us. Molds that display our faith. Footprints which portray what we have done in thought, word, and deed and what we haven’t done. And for the most part, we are oblivious to it. But if we did look back what would we see in what we have left behind? There are two considerations, what the pattern looks like and where the impression can be found.
If we looked back for a moment would we see that we have walked in love or in manipulation? Would we observe gentle correction or a judgemental print on someone’s backside (ie. a kick in the pants). Would we take joy at the straight path or laugh (or cry) at our wandering footprints? I can’t help but think about the Family Circus cartoons as Billy wanders all over the neighborhood on what should be a straight line errand.
Have we considered where we have not walked? Sure, there are places to avoid, but Jesus also commanded us to reach the world. To go into the highways and byways of this world and escape the bubble of complacency and comfort that our lives so easily fall into. Look back, what do you see? Can you see the hand of God as he leads you through difficult times? Can you see that what began as wandering is becoming straighter? Or perhaps you see a larger pattern as if you are walking in circles, moving but never moving forward? Does your footprint shout love, faith, and hope or something else like pride, selfishness, and judgment? Ideally, you should see things to thank God about and things to repent about, moments to shout about and failures to shout at, patterns that cause us to praise and impressions that cause us to pray. So, what does your footprint look like?