Early morning mist surrounded me as I walked along the deserted beach. Evidently, the threatening weather forecast had discouraged other walkers as they waited for the clearing promised later in the day. Crackling palm fronds gave evidence of the strong breeze emanating from the thunderstorms north of us, and the air was heavy with the humidity not uncommon to North Florida. I noticed the scattered shells, mostly broken, after their journey in the gulf, and while I did not hear thunder, I did hear the thunderous roar of the waves crashing onto the shore. Even the birds seemed to have chosen to stay in. I was alone.
After walking for a while, I changed directions to begin my trek back to the apartment where we were staying. When I turned, I saw footprints etched into the sand. They were mine. In some places they were barely visible, due to the hardness of the sand and the wash of the waves, but many of them were clearly defined – stark against the otherwise smooth sand.
I saw footprints on the sand, but I thought about hearts and influence and legacy.
It doesn’t take long to leave quite a few footprints. Every day of life’s journey has me walking through situations and challenges, and in the middle of those situations and challenges are people – people with hearts.
I wonder about the footprints that I have left on the hearts I have encountered. Did the impression encourage or hurt? Is the lasting memory positive or not? Do the footprints lead to the Father?
Footprints are formed in my tone and in my compassion, or lack thereof. They live cemented in the love and care of my words and my actions. Make no mistake – while the person’s heart may not have a clear memory of the footprints, the indelible imprint lives in the thoughts and feelings that extend well past our time together.
Are they stronger because we met? Is their faith more settled? Do they have more hope? Is there joy in their memory? Do they have a clearer picture of their path? Did they find a little courage to face a hard day? Did they find laughter?
It is easy to think that the curtness of my tone or a sarcastic response doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things, but every word and action leaves a footprint on a soul.
The steps I take each day are important. They leave an example that will build up or tear down.
Heavy thoughts for a morning walk on the beach – maybe the mist got to me.
I just know that my words and actions each day impact the people I encounter, leaving footprints on hearts.
You are leaving footprints, too. The question for each of us is, are they worth following?
I Peter 2: 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
Kindness costs little, but it reaps great dividends!