Sammie and I were finishing the last couple bites of a delicious, complimentary breakfast at the Berlin Grande Hotel in Holmes County, Ohio, when Doug Burgess approached to ask if we were enjoying our meal, our day and our stay at the hotel. Doug is the general manager of the grand place we had spent the previous night. More than an hour later, we hit the pause button to end our discussion — for the time being — and returned to our room. Doug’s simple question had resulted in a very meaningful chat.
During the course of the conversation, he had told us about attending the funeral of an Amish friend. The ceremony lasted for several hours. Doug was the only non-Amish person there. By the time he had finished describing the service for his friend, all three of us were on the verge of tears.
Customs that include a grave dug by family members and a simple wooden box for a casket were impressive, but those practices did not touch our hearts like the celebration of life that was the major portion of the funeral. It was more than a few songs, scripture reading, eulogy, and sermon. During the proceedings the presiding Bishop spoke, individually, to each person in attendance. In his exchange with the sole “English” person there, the Bishop had mentioned the “footprint of life” left by the deceased.
Footprint of life! Wow!
I had heard, and used, the term “carbon footprint” to refer to the impact an individual has on the environment, due to that person’s lifestyle. But to apply the expression “footprint of life” to the spiritual influence someone has made on their world — that was a whole new concept to me. For hours, the congregation had talked about the footprint left by this humble Amish believer when his Lord and Savior called him home to heaven.
Fifty years ago, Apollo 11 astronauts left footprints on the moon. Cavemen left footprints on the earth in past millennia that have been discovered in modern times. For most of us, though, our physical footprints are erased from the beach by the tides or blown from the dust by the winds of time.
But in a spiritual sense, how does the life we live and the testimony we leave create a footprint in our world for the people who follow us?
The Psalmist said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
From the Sermon on the Mount, we have these words from Jesus: “You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world ... let your light shine before others, so they will see your good works and give glory to the heavenly Father.”
What are you and I doing to leave footprints for others to follow, creating a spiritual legacy that causes them to glorify the Father — a footprint that causes them to remember our faith, our Lord, our Savior?
A song that is popular right now says, “... don’t want people to remember me, only Jesus ...” So are we leaving “footprints” that create a path that leads folks to Him?