A popular parable describes a person walking along the beach while being shown images throughout their life. There are two sets of footprints in the sand — the person’s and God’s — until tragic moments are displayed, during which God explains that the set of footprints were His, and He was carrying the individual through those moments.

The reason why this parable is so popular is because it reveals the loving and supportive nature of God, and I think it’s a good analogy for how God cares for people through times of crisis. However, as with any analogy, we can take it too far, and I think the danger with “Footprints in the Sand” is that we imagine God carrying us through all of life.

The Christian life is a journey. It’s a process of learning to be more like Christ and discovering what it means to live in the Kingdom of God. While there is plenty of biblical evidence that God will certainly carry us through times of hardship, I believe God wants us to journey with Him. So often we pray that God will guide us to where He wants us to be, as if He’s pushing or even carrying us to wherever He wants us. Instead, I think He wants us to journey with Him, trusting and leaning on Him to discover the next steps.

I do not like change. I’m uncomfortable with the unknown. I like to know where I’m at and where I’m going, so blindly following an unseen God to uncertainty is a real struggle for me. But I also know the goodness of God, and I know that a true relationship with Him involves a mutual trust: me trusting that He will daily guide each step as I lean on Him, and Him trusting in me that I will listen to His voice.

Allow God to hold and carry you through times of tragedy, but I also invite you to walk with Him through this crazy journey we call life.


What if…

Earlier today, I was working on my advanced youth ministry class, and I could not focus. If you know me at all, that probably doesn’t come as much of a shock to you. But I could tell something was holding me back. To be honest, it’s like I was afraid to write my paper.

A graduate paper is the culmination of what you’ve learned in a class. So what have I learned? By writing this paper for advanced youth ministry, I am proving that I know what I’m talking about. As the syllabus states, that I have deepened my understanding of, and broadened my praxis of, ministry-leadership in the context (and as the director of) a church youth camp summer experience.

There’s a part of me that doesn’t want that responsibility. What if I don’t know what I’m talking about? What if I still don’t know anything, even after all these classes and homework and studying and exegetical analyses? What if I can’t lead volunteers? What if I don’t relate to students?

What if I forget everything I teach students at camp? Like I’m doing right now…

I tend to forget why I’m called to ministry. You’d think being in seminary for over two years would constantly remind me, but as with anything, it’s easy to get caught in the motions of a day-to-day routine. But what do I teach over and over again to students? God wants nothing more in the entire universe than to have a relationship with you. There will be definitely be challenges in life, and questions will come up and we’ll wonder where God is. But God has promised that he will never leave us, and he will guide us through life if we let him.

It’s time for me to stop worrying about the “what ifs?” and start practicing what I preach by using the gifts God has given me.