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  • Added September 1st, 2016
  • Filed under 'All Sorts'
  • Viewed 1575 times

Whose Footprints Shall We Follow?

By Siosifa Pole in All Sorts

If we follow Jesus, he will make us his followers to live out his compassion, his peace, his love, his justice, and his care.

Last Monday I went for a walk at St Clair beach and as soon as I put my feet on the sand I saw many foot prints of different sizes and shapes and they faced different directions. It immediately prompted me to think of two things, firstly the importance of footprints and secondly, following. In looking at many footprints, I asked to myself a familiar question, "Whose footprints should I follow?" I guess that although footprints and following are two different aspects, yet they are inseparable. They are inseparable because following happens when there are footprints. Without footprints it is hard to follow or to find direction. But at the same time it is hard to follow when there are so many footprints and especially when they are scattered in different directions. We have so many footprints in the church, in our society, and in the world and we are sometimes confused about which footprints to follow.
We have heard many different voices in church argue about different theologies and styles of worship that we should adopt as a way forward to build a church that might be vibrant and meaningful. We have heard in politics of different voices claiming that their party policies will work for the benefit of all people in Aotearoa. We have heard different voices from leaders of the powerful nations in the world about their strategies to combat terrorism and to create peace. It is interesting to hear their rhetoric, which is not always the same as their actions. Different people have taken a lead in their different pursuits, and have left their footprints expecting people to follow. I was privileged to be present at two events on Wednesday 24th of August, which both focussed on the value of peace. The first one that I attended was the annual Dunedin Abrahamic Interfaith Group and Otago Tertiary Chaplaincy Peace Lecture, which was presented by Imam Afroz Ali. The topic of his presentation was, "Between Law and Spirituality: Islam's legal basis for its spirit of peaceful coexistence." He spoke passionately about the value of peace, which was something that we all need to share equally in our diversity. Imam Afroz Ali stressed frequently in his presentation the point that we have a responsibility for building a world for our future generations to live in and enjoy. In other words, we need to leave behind footprints that generations to come can follow which will help them to be able to find life. On the same evening, I rushed to the Mornington church to hear Colin Gibson's presentation on Karl Jenkins, a composer and a conductor. I was impressed with Jenkins' music especially his emphasis on peace and his insistence against war. Colin summed up his presentation by showing a DVD of Jenkins' performance on stage with his orchestra on "The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace." While the orchestra performed there were slides showing in the background of horrible pictures of people suffering during World War I and World War II. As I was enjoying Jenkins' music at the same time watching the devastation effect of war, I asked to myself these questions, "Haven't we learned a lesson from the footprints of tyrants and dictators? When we are going to learn the horror of war before is too late?
We have a duty for the future generations and the kind of footprints we leave behind is surely the legacy which will determine their future. Some of you might have seen or heard about the poem Footprints in the sand and its emphasis. The poem was about a person who had a dream that he was walking along the beach with the Lord. While they were walking, this person noticed that sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only. He complained to the Lord saying, "You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you
would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?" The Lord replied, "The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you." The image of footprints in this poem reflects care, love, and compassion. It's really portraying an image of a mother's womb where a child is carried, nurtured, and cared for months before he/ she is born. It articulates the nurture of compassion that Imam Afroz Ali constantly referred to in his presentation. The way he defined the word 'compassion' from an Islamic perspective is equivalent to the love and protection provided by a mother's womb. He claimed that to be compassionate we have to look to our own mothers. This claim is true in my own experience as I reflect on my mother's compassion toward us children. Without my mother's compassion I wouldn't be here today. She left with me
footprints of compassion, love, and care that I should follow and leave behind for the generations to come.
Last Sunday we celebrated Youth Sunday. In the two services that I took and the Mosgiel Lay Team in both Mosgiel and Wesley churches, we emphasised the importance of children and young people in our church. They are the present and future of the family, the nation, and the church. If there are no children and young people there will be no family, no nation, and no church. But if there are children and young people we need to be sure what kind of footprints we left behind for them to follow. Jesus invites those who answered his call to discipleship to follow him. In the gospel of Matthew chapter 4 verses 18 to 22, Jesus called four of his disciples and he said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." We see in this calling statement the vitality and relevance of 'following and making'. If we follow Jesus, he will make us his followers to live out his compassion, his peace, his love, his justice, and his care. This is the longing of the composer of Hymn WOV 514 and in the last verse he writes, "Lord, let me see your footmarks and in them plant my own; that I may follow boldly, and in your strength alone; O guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end; and then in heaven receive me, my Saviour and my friend." Do we know whose footprints we follow? So, whenever you have a chance to go for a walk at St Clair beach, reflect carefully on whose footprints you will choose to follow, not only on the beach, but in your life journey.
Siosifa Pole