Do you remember seeing that ubiquitous 80’s “Footprints in the Sand” poster/plaque/what have you? I think it was posted in every church, Christian home, and religious bookstore in all the land. The poem is a vision of the author’s life, and during the toughest times, there was only one set of footprints in the sand. Did that mean Jesus abandoned her and was not walking beside her in those dark moments? Jesus replies that the one set of footprints was His, for it was in those times that she was being carried by Him.
I eye-rolled every single time I saw that.
It felt syrupy and goopy, the typical Christian response to someone who was going through a hard time. The Christian “art” world latches on to easy platitudes and makes millions, and I don’t even know what to do with that.
And the truth is, I hate being carried. I like to walk, to forge my own path, to live independently, pull my weight, contribute. I take pride in being “not needy” and for plowing on in my own strength until I collapse. It’s a Western World Badge of Honor.
Today my boys were at VBS (the second of three this summer… don’t judge:) I knew I needed to come home and spend an hour or so of quiet being with the Lord. What I wanted to do was get busy and productive with laundry, dishes, watering my plants, and tidying, but I knew that those things needed to wait. I needed to learn to be still and stop allowing the anxiety of the clock to rule my life. (Any other chronic time/clock watchers out there?)
I began to ponder that in May I graduated my firstborn, and in a few weeks, my lastborn will begin kindergarten. The cycle of schooling begins all over again. I exhaled. I feel privileged to walk this parenting path, but these Middle Years are no joke. That fierce independence is ebbing. The “pulling my weight” and self-imposed expectations have made the walk one of stumbling, breathlessness, and fatigue. Gutting it out in life means my gut has gotten sick. How am I going to keep going and finish this mothering marathon well? Who will help me and get me there?
As I was finishing my devotional time this morning, I turned to Isaiah 46:3-4:
“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
These verses brought tears to my eyes. He carries us from womb to tomb. Do you see that? Jesus carried us in those precious unseen moments when we were flipping around inside our mamas, and He is still carrying us now as we are mamas, and He will carry us into gray hairs, older age, and the final precious moments we breathe.
I don’t plan on buying up Footprints merch to hand out to all of my mama friends, but I do wish I could send each one of you a lovely, handwritten note in your mailbox to remind you that it’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to not know how to move forward in your life’s current situation. It’s okay to surrender. Jesus knows the Middle Years, and He promises to carry you through them. He will carry and He will save.
I don’t know what it looks like or feels like to be carried. I get goofy images in my brain of Jesus with an Ergo carrier on, and I am in it asleep, mouth open with drool escaping. Probably not what He is saying here. But I believe His Word is true, and that God is the God Who Carries, and so today I simply pray this: “Jesus, carry me? Show me that You have been all along. And that you will keep carrying me until the two of us cross the finish line together. Amen.”