Dec 31 2010


footprints in the sandIn his writing and workshops Rob Sheppard sometimes talks about how nature photographers should not be afraid to show “the hand of man” in their work.  I confess I rarely do this.  Today, however, I venture to show “the foot of man.”  I took the picture of my footprint on the beach shown above a couple of days at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida.  I took the picture simply to illustrate that all of us leave footprints behind us.  As we come to the end of another year and prepare to start another, that is not a bad thing to remember.

There are a number of different levels we leave footprints.  Environmentalists often speak of our “carbon footprint.”   The way we live our lives has an impact on the earth.  If we are going to be good stewards of the earth we will strive to live our lives in such a way that that impact is a positive one.  It will require effort and discipline on our part but if Creation Care is important to us we will be willing to do whatever we can to care for the earth.

tracks in sandAs a Christian I am also aware that how I live my life has an impact on others.  John Donne was right, “no man is an island.”  Everything I do affects other people, not just me.  As I look back on 2010 I realize that some of my actions left positive impacts while others left negative ones.  There are a lot of things I wish I had not done or done differently.   I cannot change the past but I can learn from it.  Hopefully in 2011 I will not repeat some of the mistakes I made in 2010.  

As the New Year draws near I find myself hoping and praying that I will be a better steward of Creation and of God’s grace in the year to come.  I know that one way or another I will leave my mark behind, as will you.  Remembering this might just cause us to be more careful where and how we leave our footprints in the coming year.  Happy New Year!


(In addition to the image of my own footprint I have included another picture I took at Gulf Islands National Seashore showing bird prints in the sand that reminds us that all living things leave their mark on this earth.)

Dec 24 2010

Measureless Sands

FL-Gulf-Islands-NS-shell-PensacolaApparently a bunch of people around here have been “dreaming of a white Christmas” because we’re supposed to get several inches of snow tonight.   Since I have a lot of holiday traveling to do in the days ahead I’m not as thrilled about that as I might have been.  Following a quick trip to western Kentucky to visit my family we will be heading south to Florida to visit my wife’s family.  I guess we’ll have to make the transition from white snow to white sandy beaches.

A couple of days ago I came across a passage by Amy Carmichael that I’d like to share with you.  She writes, “As my thoughts were thus occupied, I found myself on the shore of the sea.  And I took a grain of sand from the miles of sand about me and I held it in my hand.  Then I knew that my desire for the presence of my Lord was like a little grain for smallness in comparison with my Lord’s desire to come under my roof; for that was like the measure of the measureless sands.  And as my thoughts followed this great thought, Jesus my Lord answered and said to me, ‘With desire I have desired to come to you.’”

As I read this I couldn’t help but think about those sandy beaches I’d soon be seeing but even more Carmichael’s word reminded me of the real reason for Christmas.  Christmas is an annual reminder that God’s desire to come under our roof was great.  If we listen carefully on this most holy day we can each hear our Lord say, “With desire I have desired to come to you.”  Christ did, indeed, come under our roof that first Christmas long ago.  He came as Immanuel—God with us, and he remains Immanuel—God with us to this very day.

I’m afraid that my desire for the Lord is often like Amy’s—lacking, not at all what it should be.  How wonderful it is to know that like the grains of sand on the seashore God’s desire for me (and you) remains immeasurable.  Tonight my prayer comes from the familiar Christmas hymn, Away in a Manger: “Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray.  Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.”  My wish for each of you is a very merry and blessed Christmas.  May Christ’s desire to be near you be evident this Christmas and throughout the New Year.


(I took the image above at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida.)