And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left (Isaiah 30:21).
As the kids and I played in the snow today, and as my youngest tried to follow in my boot prints to avoid the extra deep snow, God reminded me of a story I wrote over 10 years ago regarding following in His steps. I thought I’d go ahead and post it today. What I find especially awesome is I wrote this story before meeting my husband, who himself is a farmer, who grew up on a farm, and who loves his children dearly. To God be the glory, the honor, and the praise forever.
In His Steps by me
“Let me know if you need anything,” Stacy whispered as she gave Sarah a hug and left with the last group of mourners. “You have my number and you know where I live.”
“Thanks,” Sarah uttered back. As she shut the door behind Stacy, she turned around and faced the interior of the farmhouse. This was her house now, yet she felt so distant from it. The stairs that led upstairs seemed unfamiliar. Are those the stairs she used to slide down on a sofa mattress only to fall into the arms of her father? To her right she saw on the hall table a picture. Was that family really hers? Her mother had died shortly after she turned 6. Her Dad had raised her. Now he was gone, too.
At that thought Sarah realized how exhausted she was and headed toward the couch. Since her father had died three days ago, her life had been a constant circus—only without the humor. It was bad enough to lose her father; funeral arrangements, expenses, and the actual funeral only compounded the misery.
“Why?” Sarah whispered, pleaded out loud as she lay down on the couch. “First my Mom, and now my Dad. Why not me?!” Sarah wanted to cry, but her eyes were dry—she’d wept herself dry in the days prior, and it had done no good; it had been no consolation.
How could she go on? She thought. Who did she have? No one.
“I’m all alone,” Sarah sullenly voiced with resigned acceptance. “I have no one.”
As she said this, Sarah blankly scanned the room. Pictures of friends and family were scattered here and there on the walls. She saw the pictures, yet the more she gazed, the more loneliness enveloped her.
Her eyes suddenly focused, however, when she saw a familiar picture, one that had always brought her joy. It was one her mother had taken when Sarah had been 5. It had been the coldest, snowiest winter in all her memory; the weatherman had labeled it a “Winter Wonderland.” The picture was of Sarah playing her favorite game: walk in Daddy’s steps. Her dad, being the faithful farmer, daily walked to the barn to feed the animals and milk the cows. Snow never stopped her father from performing his tasks. Many days Sarah remained in the house or at play while her father went about his business, but on that day—like many snowy days—Sarah followed him—followed in his steps. She loved to see if she could make it to the barn without stepping in new snow. She would wait until her father got a little ways off and then she’d begin to follow. She’d stand in a boot print, count to three, and then leap to the next print. If successful, she’d land with both feet safe in the print; if she missed, then she’d land in the soft snow and get wet—which was in itself loads of fun for her. Nevertheless, victory was always sweetest when she’d arrive at the barn dry.
Sarah loved those days. Of course, years ago her father had sold the animals and the extra land. The house and a few acres were all that remained now. Sarah longed to be in that year again. Not only was her father still alive, but her mother was there too. Now she was alone—with no one.
Again sighing with resigned acceptance at her sheer loneliness, Sarah got up from the couch and headed toward her bed. Sleep had always helped her; maybe a new day would bring better things.
After washing her face, clearing away the tearstains that seemed to be ingrained in her skin, Sarah pulled down the covers of her bed and then slipped under the sheets. She leaned over to turn out the light when her eyes caught glimpse of her father’s Bible. He had been on his way home from church when a drunk driver had hit him. The emergency personnel had given it to her when she arrived at the hospital. It was all they could salvage from the wreck.
Only recently had her Dad begun going to church again. They had stopped going soon after her mother had died. She, too, had begun to go again with him. He seemed to be more “in to it” then she was, though. That religious stuff was just hard for her to comprehend. How could God leave her and her father alone all those years? How could God leave her alone now?
She was about to put it down when a picture fell out of it—it was the same picture she had looked at downstairs. Why would her father keep that picture in his Bible? As she turned it over, she saw a simple phrase written on it: walk in His steps. It was then that she realized why that day in particular had always been so special to her. . . .
“One, two, three, jump!”
With that, a feisty five-year old with shoulder length brown curly hair, leaped from where she was and landed right in the middle of another hole.
“Daddy! Look at me! I’m walking in your steps!”
“Good job, honey!” a six-foot, medium build man replied as he continued his walk a little distance from the girl. He turned around and smiled, his eyes emanating a deep love for the little princess who followed him. “You are sure good at keeping dry!”
At this compliment the little girl’s eyes sparkled with pride. “Thanks!”
Only a few minutes later the two of them sat together on some hay inside the barn. The little girl, Sarah, with brown eyes as wide as saucers and glittering with excitement, looked up at her Dad, saying, “That was fun!”
“It sure was, cutie,” John replied, tickling Sarah for a few minutes while she screamed and giggled and pretended to try to get away. “You know what, honey,” John stopped tickling her and placed her on his lap.
“What?” Sarah peered into her father’s eyes with curiosity.
“You can learn an important lesson from your game—what do you call it again?”
“Walk in Daddy’s steps” Sarah replied triumphantly.
“Right—Walk in Daddy’s steps,” John repeated with a contemplative amusement in his voice and on his face. “Did you know that God wants you to walk in His steps?”
“What do you mean?” Sarah tilted her head, squinted her eyes, and wrinkled her nose in puzzlement.
“Well—see, honey—each day is a gift from God. He gives us the days we have so that we can honor Him. He also knows that we cannot do it on our own, so every day He goes before us. He goes through our day before we ever go through it—“
“Just like you walk through the snow before I do!” Sarah cried out with excitement.
“Yes! You’ve got it. When I walk to the barn and know you are following me, I choose my steps carefully to make sure I don’t lead you in the wrong direction or into danger. God also directs His steps so that if we follow in His steps we will be safe. So, Sarah,” John began to say, hugging her to himself, “I want you to remember that no matter what goes on in this life, no matter what comes against you, God has walked the path already. All you have to do is follow—is walk—in His steps. Got it?”
“Yeah, Daddy, I got it.”
“Yeah, Daddy, I got it,” Sarah choked out with a slight smile. Tears began to flow again—yet this time she felt a release. She did get it. God was with her even now. God was looking at her with the same loving kindness that her Daddy had looked at her with. She wasn’t alone. She wasn’t alone.
For the first time since her mother, and since her father had died, Sarah felt at peace. With that, she returned the picture to the Bible, reached over, turned off the light, and slept.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21)..