Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV
“You’re following in your Mama’s footsteps aren’t you?”
I have heard it half a dozen times in my lifetime. I’d often nod my head, acknowledging the speaker was correct in his or her assumption. Truth be told though, I never really understood exactly what that meant. It sounded good. Ask near anyone who genuinely knows her and they will tell you that my Mama is a pretty good one to follow. She is gracious and wise. She is a peace-maker and brims over with hospitality. So why wouldn’t I want to follow in her footsteps. I just never fully understood the meaning behind it, so I would agree. In many regards I have unknowingly followed in her footsteps and as I tend to to do, I just accepted it as such and moved on. In my mind we wear almost the same size shoe, so it didn’t seem odd to me that I was stepping into her shoes, after all they fit just fine. Clearly I had confused two expressions, “having big shoes to fill” and “following in someone’s footsteps.”
To follow in someone’s footsteps means, To pursue something that someone else (often a family member) has already done.
Having big shoes to fill roughly means that it’s going to be hard for you to do the job as well as they did it.
For most of my life, well all of it until now, I reckon I did not fully understand what I was agreeing or not agreeing to in regards to shoes and footsteps of others. That was until recently anyway.
We had made our way to our annual beach vacation trip. The previous year had not yielded such a luxury, so this year was an especially anticipated event. I counted down the days and would decide “How many more sleeps until the beach.” I would say in my head “Two weeks from today, where will I be?” The answer was always the beach, no matter if it was two weeks, two days or tomorrow. I was ready. More than ready. I had been depleted for quite some time, and the waves and the wind, the constant of the always-the-same, never-the-same gulf leaves me filled up and ready to push through. I have been known to sit and to soak and to hear the King speak through His creation. I have often said, “A rainy day at the beach is better than a sunny day at home.” I am not sure if that rings true for everyone, but it does me.
As the thunder began to rumble off in the distance and the sky darken, I knew we would have to head indoors soon. It had been a successful day for me, one filled with books, and snacks, sun-kissed shoulders, and a breeze that drowns out the noise of the world better than anything else I know. My feet looked like they’d been dusted with caster sugar.
My Sweetheart had worked some while we vacationed, catching up on things neglected at home; then he made his way down to the seaside. He isn’t filled by it like I am, but he does enjoy a lazy afternoon listening to music, people watching, and most of all watching the sky. It was the same place, sky watching, several years ago that ushered in a career change for him from artist to meteorologist.
As the sky darkened and he nudged me I knew it was time for our party to return indoors. We gathered up our belongings, and began the arduous task of take down.
Loaded down with a burden of camp chairs, trash, all manner of sandy toys we made our way up the beach. We moved single file, our party of ten, and I was directly behind my husband. As he walked, his large size 14 sandal-clad foot made exaggerated depressions into the sand. Without realizing it I was following in his footsteps. Then I began to actually step in the places he has stepped. The walk was so much easier when I would place my foot just where he had been. The sand already packed and solid made for easier stepping. His stride is larger than mine and that proved tricky but the burden I carried was much more tolerable when I followed in his footsteps. Many times after, as we made our way up, I noted that following in his steps was always less of a hardship than going my own way. I likened that to my walk with the Lord. Sure there are times when following Christ can feel awkward, when His stride doesn’t match mine, but I can follow in His footsteps knowing, He already knows the way, He has already made a way, and in fact He is the Way.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 NIV