Running is one of my favorite means of stress management. It’s a time of physically “burning” off any negative emotions, it’s a bonding time between my dog and me, and, most importantly, it’s a time of reflection, a time for me to be alone with my maker. And this morning was no exception. It was Saturday, and though it was nearly 8:00 a.m., the sun was barely an orange streak in the eastern sky. A tribute to the time of year, I thought, to the fact that the winter equinox was just days away.
My route took me into the local cemetery, and as I snapped off my dog’s leash, she charged away to race among the trees and tombstones. Of all the places she loves to run, this is definitely her favorite! The sun was a little higher in the sky by now, and I could clearly see the path in front of me. There was just a dusting of snow on the road, but I couldn’t be bothered to remember when it had fallen.
As I rounded the curve at the back of the cemetery, a line of shoe and dog tracks caught my attention. At first I guessed that someone had been there ahead of me that morning. I smiled at the fact that anyone else would be as crazy as I am, to be out this early on a Saturday when it was –15º C. But then I remembered that the sun was just coming up. Surely no one else had already been in the cemetery THIS morning!
As my sleepy brain worked a little farther, I realized that we hadn’t had any new snow since the previous night. I stared the footprints some more. I had been in the cemetery the day before. Was it possible that they were MINE?
I slowed my steps and stooped to examine them. They were about the same size as my shoe, but I had no idea what kind of a track my running shoes left. When I tried to place a new track beside the old one, I found that the snow was currently too cold to form one!
I idly pushed it all from my mind. I needed to get back home. I had started out later than I liked to start, and my mother-in-law in Europe would be calling soon. But as I rounded another bend in the road, the footprints again caught my attention. For some reason I stopped and looked behind me. This time I noticed a second line of tracks that had formed beside the first ones. Today’s? But my feet weren’t making footprints in the snow today! Sure enough, however, the tracks ended exactly where I stood. Without further thought, I bent down to examine the two sets. They were identical. The footprints I had been following were my own from the previous day.
I chided myself gently at this point for wasting time in such a manner, and I forced myself to run on; but when I still couldn’t get those footprints out of my mind, I slowly began to realize that this unnatural fascination with a set of indentations in the snow was too ridiculous to be coming from me. I looked up into the now-orange sky. “What is it, Lord?” I whispered. “What are you trying to tell me?”
The answer was immediately impressed upon my mind: I need to leave footprints everywhere I walk. But not ones made by my running shoes. The footprints I need to leave on people’s lives are “Jesus” footprints! People need to be able to SEE that I know Jesus. I need to shine for Jesus in EVERY interaction.
Tears threatened to brim over, but I dared not cry—not with the icy westerly wind blowing directly into my face! I quickly wiped them dry on my sleeve, and my words bubbled out instead: “Oh Lord, may my life be such that others will see YOU shining out of me! May I so touch the lives of others with YOUR love, that tracks—YOUR tracks!—will be left in the snow!”
How is your walk through life, my friend? Are you leaving lasting “Jesus” footprints along your paths? If not, then let your prayer be the same as mine: “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:16).
(To access the entire “Footprints in the Snow” devotional series, please click here.)