One set of footprints—for when you fail

There’s a famous poem called Footprints in the Sand.*

Someone has a dream and is walking along the beach with the Lord. Scenes from their life flash across the sky.

The person looks back at their footprints and notices that during sadness there are only one set of footprints. The dreamer concludes that the Lord had left them during those difficult times.

But no. The Lord replies: “My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

This is usually interpreted to mean that when we are struggling or sad he picks us up. But I would like to point out another possible interpretation: That one set of footprints means he carries you—not only when you fall, but when you fail. 

It’s a hard time. I know that some of you don’t feel great about your faith right now. You’re so weary that your journey with Jesus feels like it’s taken a hit. As a result, you feel a bit deflated, and maybe even guilty.

But God’s word to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 is also a good reminder to us in times like these: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Yes, we are called to a high ethical standard and to be proactive about our walk with God. But there are times when it seems that our job is to simply accept a gift: Jesus does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

His grace is actually and really sufficient.

Rest in him. Trust him. Let him carry you. His love isn’t conditional on your perpetual awesomeness.

One set of footprints means he carries you—not only when you fall, but when you fail.


–*There is debate about the identity of the original author, but the poem is nevertheless well-known. Various but similar versions can be found online.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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