Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men. Matthew 4:19
I drove past the school playground yesterday and noticed a couple things missing. Since yesterday was our 7th snow day since Christmas, missing thing number one was obviously the children but the second missing thing was more subtle. Footprints; there were no little boot prints, no half-done snowmen, and not a single snow angel. The snow was just…there! It was a bit of a sad sight and if that snow could talk it would have no story to tell, no tales of laughter and excitement and the squealing joy of all the little people who had been there and left their mark. It made me stop and think about the story left behind with our footprints. Each of us leaves a footprint where we go and I have to wonder just what our story is all about.
I was thinking about those footprints in the snow while I was washing dishes last night and heard a commercial on the radio about reducing our carbon footprint on the earth. I’m not entirely sure what that means but I know leaving that kind of footprint isn’t a good thing. The whole footprint thing just kind of snowballed and this morning, a bookmark fell out of one of my prayer books. It was a dog eared torn out page from an old daily devotional book. The words I had circled said, “What kind of faith footprint are you leaving for people to follow?” Humm…good question!
We can tell a lot from a footprint. Footprints can be helpful. The hunters in my family use animal footprints to seek and track. Footprints can be precious. One year for mother’s day we made plaster stepping stones with the kid’s footprints and what mother doesn’t treasure the newborn footprint taken right after her baby is born. Footprints can be alarming. Our house was broken into once and I could tell immediately the muddy footprints across my kitchen floor did not belong to anyone in my family. I guess footprints are a pretty big deal when you stop and think about it. I suppose that’s why the line about our faith footprint just stuck with me.
If someone was tracking us, where would our footprints lead them? To the refrigerator, the tv, the computer? Do our footprints ever lead folks to a place that isn’t gonna get them to heaven? How often do our footprints lead to a quiet place of prayer or to a place of joyful worship? Do our footprints lead others to places of kindness and service? I wonder how often our footprints lead the way through tough situations demonstrating faithful strength and perseverance. Are we strong enough to leave footprints as we walk away from a conversation or an activity that will tear someone down instead of lifting them up? Do our footprints ever lead us toe to toe with wrong and rotten and pass through courageously or do they skirt around it taking the easier path?
I suppose those are the kind of things that determine the faith footprint we leave behind. I hope we leave more faith footprints; in fact I hope we leave so many this world begins to look like a snowy school playground after recess!
A Seed To Plant: Stop for a few minutes and think about all the places you have left your footprint during the past week. If you discover you need to leave some footprints in a new direction…lift it up in prayer and be on your way!
Blessings on your day!
His appearance was like lightning and his clothing white as snow. Matthew 28:3
As I sit here typing, I am aware that I really should be standing in the school gym with 260 students saying Morning Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance…but I’m not! I’m actually sitting here drinking coffee and typing in my sweats. I’m not sick; it’s just another snow day in Michigan! I think it’s fair to say that we are officially trapped in the grip of an old fashioned winter! The weatherman says that within the next 24 hours the wind chill will be near 40 below…YIKES! The weather we’ve had this winter just changes everything and there isn’t a darn thing we can do about it. I feel a little like shouting out to the wind and snow, “Hey…don’t you know we’re missing Penguin week in first grade? Hey…don’t you know we are trying to get the hang of long vowel sounds? Hey…don’t you know we should be diving into math fact families and prayer writing? And HEY…it’s Catholic Schools Week and you can’t celebrate it if you aren’t in school!” But shouting those things would be as useless as shoveling the sidewalk again.
I guess there’s nothing like a big hard dose of something we can’t change to make us realize how little control we really have. I listen to the forecast and I’m frustrated about all the things in my plans that aren’t happening. I wonder if God ever looks down at me with the same frustration when I don’t cooperate with His plan for me. I know my little lovelies are at home doing great things like building blanket forts, snuggling under their warm covers a little longer than usual and having great fun with their toys. I know lots of moms who are so happy to keep their little lovelies to themselves another day because they do go from kindergarten to senior at warp speed and I won’t take that away from them but I’m not always as good at surrendering my plans as I should be!
I think as I sit here this cold winter morning I need to take a few lessons from the wind and snow. First, bend to the plan of God; just because I planned it, prayed over it and wrote it down doesn’t mean it’s a good plan…God’s is always better so I’d better be willing to bend and sway like the branches in the wind. Second, be grateful; my quiet day is spent inside a warm house…I’m glad I have one and I’m grateful to those amazingly strong folks like farmers, policemen, snow plow drivers and the dozens of other occupations who have to be outside. Third, I’ve been given the gift of time…I’d better use it to read, pray and study and return to school a little closer to Him.
A Seed To Plant: Are there things in your life you are trying to plan and manage on your own? Take a few minutes to hand those over to the Father. Also in your prayers today, remember all those who aren’t as safe and warm as you.
Blessings on your day!
And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Mark 9:42
I began my teaching career in junior high. That was an adventure to say the least! I have been asked many times how I became a motivational speaker and my answer is always the same, “If you can teach junior high, you can do ANYTHING!” I will forever be a more patient, joyful, compassionate and understanding person because of the time I spent in the presence of those wonderful little hormonal and emotional time-bombs! One of the things I remember hearing daily among the kids at that age was the phrase, “No offense but…” I tried and tried and tried to help them understand that if they had to begin the conversation with those words, it was indeed GOING to be offensive.
Have you noticed how often people “water down” the truth and their own personal convictions in the name of “not offending” anyone. Sometimes we dance around the truth so many times we don’t even remember what it was! We worry about offending the political and religious ideas and beliefs of people we have never met. We worry about offending adults, children, governments, institutions and people half way around the world but yet we don’t always think hard enough about offending the very God who loves us, protects us and breathed us into being.
In a sermon a while back our pastor shared a comment he had heard at a retreat. He said the speaker had told them that “The Gospel can be offensive.” What? I had to chew on that one a few weeks before it became clear. When we look at the Gospels as our directive for living instead of merely a set of suggestions, they can be offensive, especially if we’re living only bits and pieces of the Gospel message. Every time we live in a way that opposes the teachings of Jesus, we offend God. I think He must be offended on a regular basis. We live in a society that will spend hundreds of dollars to “re-word” a statement or document so it doesn’t offend someone but yet our behaviors offend the Almighty on a regular basis and we don’t seem to give it due notice. I have to pause a bit and ask myself how offended God is when I think judgmental thoughts about one of His beloved children. I have to wonder how offended He is each time I choose to spend time on the screen, instead of on my knees. I wonder if He is offended by popular music, the garbage on television or the books that depict characters and plots that do anything but uphold the Gospel message. I really wonder if the thing that offends Him the most is the way our society has become completely immune to it all.
If Jesus came to live in our home for a day, would we feel the need to change the channel on the TV or hide the book we were reading. I wonder if Jesus would say, “I wish you’d worry more about offending my Father in Heaven and worry less about offending people of this world.” If trying our hardest to avoid offending God became the mission of every Christian, I think we’d be amazed at the dramatic change that would occur in our world. So… go ahead and read the Gospels and be offended…that’s where He begins to speak to our heart.
A seed to plant: Draw one of the four names from a hat, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John…read that Gospel slowly and carefully over the next few days…ask God to offend you and then slather you with His Grace so you can make a change.
Blessings on your day!
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