FOOTPRINTS POEM: HOPE IN FOOTPRINTS

You may know the  poem entitled  “FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND.” It is beloved by many and has offered hope during past decades.  It likely inspired the song, “FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND.”

Whether I hear the poem, sing the song, or read Scriptures that remind me that I have a comforting Presence with me always, I find that His footprints fill me with hope. May they do the same for you.

FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND (the poem):

“One night a man had a dream…. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it: ‘LORD, You said that once I decided to follow You, You’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed You most You would leave me.’

The LORD replied: ‘My son, My precious child, I love you, and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.'”

(Author Unknown)

Even if His footprints are unseen, His presence is felt, and it gives me hope to trust in the Omnipresence of One Who never leaves nor forsakes me. He is also omnipotent (all-powerful) and omniscient (all-knowing), so I can totally rest in Him and trust His unfailing grace to carry me through life’s greatest difficulties.

I think the FOOTPRINTS poet understood this truth well and expressed it beautifully. Because of my own experiences I can add a sincere “Amen.”

“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.” (Psalm 77:19)

OH, HOW HE LOVES YOU AND ME: HOPE FROM DESPAIR

I have liked the song, “Oh, How He Loves You and Me by Kurt Kaiser, since first hearing it probably in the 1970s. It has a lovely tune with an important reminder of the great love that Jesus has for us all.

A song can have simple lyrics and still relate a powerful Truth. I believe this short simple song does just that.

The lyrics remind us that Jesus gave his life then asks, “What more could He give?” Also we’re reminded that Jesus went to Calvary to show His love for sinners (meaning all of us).

One line especially makes this song right for being included in my blog. The song acknowledges that what He (Jesus) did there (at Calvary) brought hope from despair.

As sinners we would be left in utter despair with no hope if a perfect Savior had not willingly gone to Calvary to show His love for us and pay the price required by a holy God. What Jesus did there at Calvary truly brought hope from despair.

When we have received by faith the redemption that cleanses and gives new life then we can experience a sure hope. We can agree with these simple yet powerful lyrics, “Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how he loves me; Oh, how he loves you and me.”

We know love by this, that Jesus laid down His life for us….” (I John 3:16)

HUNTER WOODHALL: HOPE TO INSPIRE

  1. According to Arkansas’ KATV News, there’s a men’s track & field coach who admits his “mind is blown.” This describes Coach Chris Bucknam’s reaction to a sophomore sprinter for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Maybe it’s not that unusual for a coach to be impressed by or even awed by an extraordinary athlete. While Hunter Woodhall is an extraordinary athlete, he’s clearly an unusual one. Woodhall is an athlete who happens to be the first double amputee to earn an NCAA Division I scholarship in track and field.

Woodhall explains a greater purpose than winning races, “This whole journey and this whole reason I’m in college is to show people what’s possible.”

I believe what’s possible in his life will bring inspiration and hope to many — from athletic hopefuls to amputees needing a dose of hope and lots of folks in between.

As a two-time Paralympic medalist, Woodhall achieved first team all-American honors at the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Outdoor Championships last spring while competing with traditional (non-amputee) runners. He already has earned a first place finish and has reached his own personal best indoors this winter.

He has earned such athletic success despite being a double amputee. Both his legs were amputated below the knee when he was a baby due to underdeveloped fibula (from knee to ankle).

Woodhall wisely claims, “No matter what situation you’re born with, no matter what situation you’re in in life, you’re the only one that can stop yourself from accomplishing your goals.”

He competed in several sports including skiing, soccer, and football before committing to track. Woodhall explained, “When I got my first pair of running legs, it’s just like this feeling of freedom. It’s hard to explain.”

When he chose to start sprinting in high school, there were doubters about his potential to win.

He admitted, “It was just people being content that I was showing up. ‘The kid without legs was running,’ and I would kind of get the sympathy clap.”

Doubters soon witnessed this unusual runner surpassing all expectations to win. Spectators watched him run and win! They watched him run faster and faster to win again and again! They watched as Woodhall ran to become state champion and as he kept running to become a state superstar.

There seemed to be no stopping him, so next he wanted to run in college competitions, however he needed scholarship offers. University of Arkansas happened to be “one of only a handful of power programs bold enough to recruit him.”

Woodhall understood, “It was really just a lack of knowledge of the situation. No one without legs has ever ran division one.”

Coach Bucknam noted his speed, of course, but he perceived that Woodhall had more to offer than speed alone. In addition were his mental fortitude and confidence.

Bucknam explained, “You gotta take some risks anyways if you want to be good, right? We were willing to take a risk with him.”

Woodhall liked what he saw at U of A and decided, “From my visit, being on campus, just the whole entire experience showed me this is the place I need to be. These people are going to fight for you.”

Bucknam admired not only Woodhall’s speed but also his boldness to compete in the SEC (Southeast Conference).

Woodhall recognized, “If you want to be the best, you gotta go to where the people are the best. You gotta beat the best,”

NCAA granted Woodhall special permission from the NCAA (think waiver) to compete with traditional runners. He struggled during his freshman season last winter, but this season is bringing improvement.

“He’s an NCAA all-American, and we just know the sky is the limit now,” Bucknam commented.

Striving to reach or exceed that limit seems to be something Woodhall is motivated to do for others. “If there’s somebody in the stands that maybe doesn’t believe in themselves or for whatever reason if they can see me run or whatever else I do, if I can inspire them to say, ‘you know what, let me go do something,’ that’s special to me…. That means more than times, medals, places, anything like that.”

Woodhall’s amazing attitude is full of hope… hope to run… hope to win… hope to inspire…. He’s an example to others who need hope to get in life’s race and maybe even dream of winning their own races. I think Hunter Woodhall is a champion worth cheering on — both on the track and in life.

(Quotes of Hunter Woodhall and Coach Chris Bucknam are from KATV News)

As I share Hunter Woodhall’s story I am reminded of the following verses that inspire me. “…let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1, 2)

I am proud of Hunter’s amazing attitude as well as his athletic success. He definitely has potential to be an even greater sports star, and I anticipate seeing his star shine brighter before dimming. My prayer for him is that he will succeed not in races but more importantly in life. To me that means he’ll finish well by obtaining the reward that God has for him at the end of life’s race.

In the meantime I’ll be cheering him on. Run, Hunter, run!

FROM COWS TO CHRIST: HOPE IN COLORFUL EQUATION

I grew up in rural America where the sight and sounds of white-faced hereford cattle in our pasture were part of my daily environment. Although our cows weren’t typically for milking, I remember we had one milk cow when I was a child.

My older brother’s chore was to milk that cow, and my self-appointed chore was to supervise. Anyone with a younger sibling may relate to how annoyed he was with me at times.

I remember that the milk did not always find its way into the bucket. If I stood too close I was sure to get “showered” by big brother’s accurate though wasteful aim. But I digress… back to the point I want to reach.

As a child I considered it a miracle that a reddish-brown cow could consume green grass and produce white milk.  I won’t attempt to explain that process in this blog, but I will mention another “mystery.”

There’s a colorful equation that seems somewhat miraculous as well. It can be simply expressed as black + red = white. No artist can solve this color equation except One. Only the Master Artist of the Universe can accomplish the steps of applying red to black and ending with white.

According to the Holy Bible, each human heart (past an age of “accountability” or spiritual awareness and understanding of right and wrong) is sinful and dark — let’s say black with sin.

When a person chooses Jesus as Savior and accepts His payment for sin, then His red blood that was shed as the payment covers the sin.

Then God the Father chooses not to see the sin but sees (through the red blood of Jesus) the person’s heart clean and forgiven. The new (reborn) heart has been washed white as snow.

It is a miracle, because only God is able to do it. No human can accomplish changing one’s own dark and sinful heart to one clean and white as snow. Only Jesus’ lived a purely perfect and righteous life, so His shed blood was needed for each of us. Thankfully He loved us enough to be our sacrifice and to pay our debt in full.

I think this can then be considered a miraculous equation: black + red = white. Of course, it may not be a literal equation, but I think it is a simple (and colorful) way to express a profound truth.

If this blog leads you to ponder this truth, then you may want to answer these questions:

Is my heart black with sin?

Do I trust Jesus to apply His blood payment and pay my sin debt?

Do I accept God’s forgiveness and receive rebirth and new life?

If you have already come to Him, then follow Him, live in hope, and share the good news! If you have not come to Him, then WHY NOT???

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:20, 21)

“For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Romans 3:23)

“But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  (Romans 10:9, 10)

“For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”  (Romans 10:13)

“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

Want to give your life to God but not sure how to pray? Prayer is simply talking to Him. Your heart’s attitude is more important than your words, but here’s an example of what to say….

“Dear God, I admit I am a sinner, I want to turn away from sin, and I ask you to forgive me.

I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, paid for my sins when He willingly became a sacrifice for me on the cross where He died. He was resurrected and now is in heaven praying for me.

I confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Thank you for new life with your Holy Spirit to help me obey You.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Amen!

LIFE IS HARD: HOPE FOR ETERNAL LIFE

I don’t have to tell you that life is sometimes hard. Probably no one will argue with that statement except those who say it is always hard. The good news is this life isn’t the end. The bad news is this life isn’t the end.

Let me explain what I mean…. If you have no hope for a better life after this one, then the idea of never-ending death is worse than terribly sad news.

However, if you have hope for eternal life in heaven after this one, then faith in Jesus of the Bible brings better than incredibly good news!

The Bible tells us “…God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Accepting, trusting, believing in Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, as means of eternal life results in living forever in heaven, a place of no more death nor crying nor sorrow. Why would anyone not want to go there? To know Jesus is to know eternal life. This idea brings hope.

Rejecting God’s gift given at Christ’s expense results in one getting his own way. In other words, if one doesn’t want to be with Him, he can have it his way. No Jesus means no eternal life, therefore no Jesus means to know eternal death. This offers utter hopelessness.

Worth pondering…. the consequences of this one choice of what to do with Jesus will last forever! I pray you will have faith to believe the Truth and be filled with hope for eternal life.

MEMORABLE SONG: MY ONLY HOPE IS YOU

Via my auditory memories I can hear my children’s voices singing, “My only hope is You….” Almost 30 years ago at summer camp in Kiamichi hills of eastern Oklahoma we learned this song written by Keith Lancaster.

It blessed my heart to hear the truth of the message in the simple lyrics, the sweet tune, and their precious voices singing of our hope… peace… joy.

Past, present, or future all that I need is Jesus, because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

MY ONLY HOPE IS YOU

My only hope is You, Jesus,
My only hope is You.
From early in the morning to late at night,
My only hope is You.

My only peace is You, Jesus,
My only peace is You.
From early in the morning to late at night,
My only peace is You.

My only joy is You, Jesus,
My only joy is You.
From early in the morning to late at night,
My only joy is You.

All that I need is You, Jesus,
All that I need is You.
From early in the morning to late at night,
All that I need is You.

My only hope is You, Jesus,
My only hope is You.
From early in the morning to late at night,
My only hope is You.
From early in the morning to late at night,
My only hope is You.

(Keith Lancaster)

SAMARITAN’S PURSE: HOPE COMES ON A TRUCK

America’s National Weather Service announced that it “could be the storm of a lifetime,” for the Carolina coast of the United States. Powerful wind, record rains, and life-threatening storm surges sound like good reasons to me for more than a million people to follow mandatory evacuation orders.

Unfortunately the storm that peaked at Category 5, Hurricane Florence, is a natural disaster that doesn’t leave calmly. Even now as a tropical depression, because of major flooding, the storm has “never been more dangerous than it is right now,” Gov. Roy Cooper, North Carolina Governor, related at a news conference Sunday.

Where’s the hope? It’s arriving by a convoy of 18-wheel trucks loaded with the materials and supplies that are needed and were ready to roll Saturday morning. The name on the trucks reads “Samaritan’s Purse.” What does that mean?  To many in distress and dire need, it means hope comes on trucks.

THE LATEST (Sept. 16, 8:41 pm) samaritanspurse.org:

“Samaritan’s Purse staff, two disaster relief units, and equipment are in eastern North Carolina to serve homeowners in the areas hardest hit by Florence. We have established our first relief base at Port City Community Church in New Bern….. Volunteers officially begin tomorrow, Sept. 17—some already started on Sunday….

Our task is to serve as  hands and feet of Jesus for those in need in the hardest hit areas… Samaritan’s Purse staff will continue to monitor Florence and prepare to respond in additional storm-affected areas, as needed…. Please pray for residents in Florence’s path and for our staff as they serve in Jesus’ Name….”

Hope also comes with teams of volunteers that have  been mobilized by Samaritan’s Purse to help homeowners with cleanup. Billy Graham Rapid Respond Team chaplains have also been called on to serve.

For info regarding their relief work, how to volunteer, or how to send donations, please visit samaritanspurse.org/florence or call 800.567.8121.  And please remember to pray for all affected… residents, victims, workers… from rescuers to rebuilders.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”   Hebrews 6:10

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Proverbs 11:25

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6:38

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  1 Peter 4:10

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  Galatians 6:10

“I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35

“Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.”
Isaiah 58:10

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
2 Corinthians 9:7-9

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”   Galatians 5:13-14

“This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”  Titus 3:8

“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, …” Philippians 2:1-11

PRAYERS: HOPE to PRAY

There’s a beautiful prayer that holds much meaning for many hearts. The Serenity Prayer is believed to be written by Reinhold Niebuhr. I remember when I first discovered it, and even then as a child I knew it was meaningful.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference.”
(Reinhold Niebuhr)

Through the years the Serenity Prayer has been prayed by countless people, including members of Alcoholics Anonymous and other such programs. There are multiple versions, and a more recent “people” version is used by CoDependents Anonymous.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change,
Courage to change the person I can,
And the wisdom to know that person is me.”
(Origin unknown)

I believe both prayers are full of hope. If you have hope enough to pray, then perhaps you have faith enough to move mountains. Consider the small size of a mustard seed….

Jesus said, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17:20)

Now that gives me hope….

God, grant me the HOPE to pray, the FAITH to move mountains, and the LOVE to share that hope and faith. Amen.