Footprints in the Sand
A Funeral Homily
The Book of Proverbs says:
‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths’
Those two phrases ‘all thy ways’ and ‘direct thy paths’ remind us that Christians have always understood our life as a journey or a pilgrimage – from our beginning when God made us ‘in His own image’, to our end for which He made us ‘the vision of God’
So life is a journey – but it is not an easy one. To reach our destination we have to know the answer to two questions: ‘Where we are going to?’, and ‘Which Way we should go?’.
To the first question – where are we going – we already know the answer: in the words of the well-known hymn, ‘we are ‘travelling home to God’.
To the second question – what is the way – we must turn for the answer to the words spoke Jesus to Saint Thomas in the Upper Room: Jesus said to Thomas, ‘I am the Way the Truth and the Life: no-one comes to the Father but by me’
But it isn’t simply a matter of God having told us where we are going, and of His Son Jesus Christ telling us the way, setting an example for us, and then telling us simply to ‘get on with it’. For Jesus Christ is no example of a dead Hero whose sayings and example we should simply follow. For though (as St Paul says) ‘He died unto sin once’ he goes on to proclaim that God the Father raised Him from the dead, ‘He liveth unto God’.
If we will only trust in Him, we shall prove those words to be true, that he is ‘the Way to the Father’, that He will be with us throughout our earthly lives, and if only we will acknowledge him (or ‘know’ Him) he will indeed ‘direct our paths.
Let me remind you of a well-known story which sums up everything that we believe about our earthly pilgrimage.
The story teller writes:
One night I dreamt I was walking along
the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints;
other times there was only one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there has only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.”
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