Monuments and symbols through history have established witness and testimony to significant memories, experiences and solemn events. In ancient times the people traveled by walking so their footprints marked their journeys from place-to-place and time-to-time. One particular journey that reveals the important passage and success accomplished by Joshua and the children of Israel was the crossing of the River Jordan at flood stage. God instructed them to setup a monument with 12 large stones, each chosen by one of the tribes and the whole to symbolize the victorious passage by God’s blessing by dry ground to the Promised Land.
When the monument was established the emphasis was on the memory of this great event—the historical conquest for the Israelite community. When Joshua established the monument of 12 stones he said, “When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What mean these stone?’ Then ye shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us, until we were gone over: that all the peole of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever’” (Joshua 4:21-24).
Such memorials are important for people. We continue to mark such experiences, individual accomplishments and events that we might not forget what God and individuals have accomplished.
In our history in the United States we have recognized the value and virtue of such monuments—the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Vietnam Memorial, and so many others. All through time as people visit these monuments the question comes—“What does this mean? Why is this important?”
The image of footprints, walking, steps have marked many lives. Many of these have been memorialized in great hymns for us. Mary B. C. Slade wrote,
Footprints of Jesus
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
The great preacher Washington Gladden expressed the walk with Jesus in his great hymn,
O Master, let me walk with Thee
In lowly paths of service free;
Tell me Thy secret, help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.
W. Elmo Mercer penned the words that became the great hymn “Each Step I Take.” The refrain of this message aptly expresses this reality—
Each step I take
I know that He will guide me;
To higher ground He ever leads me on.
Until someday the last step will be taken
Each step I take just leaders me closer home.
Nelson A. Sosa wrote “Walking Along with Jesus.”
Jesus, my Lord and Savior,
Jesus, my faithful friend!
Thro’ darkest night He leads me;
I put my trust in Him.
Fear not the road before you,
Tho’ it is still unknown,
Jesus is always with you;
You will not walk alone.
Walking along with Jesus,
Sharing as good friends do;
Our voices ring with laughter,
No other friend so true!
Our voices ring with laughter,
His love protects me as we walk unendingly.
An unknown poet has given us an inspiring literary piece that expresses a marvelous truth to remind all of us of God’s care and provision for us.
One night God and I walked on the beach.
Scenes of my life flashed before me
Like lightning in the sky.
Sometimes a flash revealed two sets of footprints,
This troubled me
Because it was when I was most lonely
Or hurt most deeply
That I saw one set of footprints.
So I said, “Lord, you promised me
You would always walk with me,
But during my most trying hours
I saw only one set of footprints.”
The Lord replied, “My child,
When you saw only one set of footprints
I took you in my arms and carried you.”
This inspiring poetic expression has been given physical expression by Sculptor Bob Harness in the great, meaningful monument in Carthage, Texas sponsored by the Footprints in the Sand Foundation and situated in Pippen Memorial Park. The fifteen foot bronze statue depicts this inspirational poem. This is another meaningful monument that for generations to come will offer an opportunity to witness to God’s care and constant provision for His people. As the stationery of the Foundation says, “Sands shift, footprints are erased, but this monument will remain as a reminder of how our steps will be placed in the sands of time.”
This is a very important monument to remind all of us of God’s loving presence and care for each individual. The Footprints in the Sand masterpiece is a marvelous place to visit and to remember the marvel of Jesus’ promise that He would be with us forever. This is a magnificent sculpture of Christ carrying a weak, troubled man. As we visit this monument from time-to-time, let us remember the reality of Jesus’ promises and His abiding presence and resurrection power. This should be part of our community conversation and Christian witness as people who care for others. You can contact the Footprints in the Sand Foundation by going to their website at www.footprintsmonument.com , by calling 903-692-3378 or by snail mail at 808 Ray Street, Carthage, Texas 75633. Let us share with others about this worthy memorial, speaking simply, kindly and graciously of God’s sovereign goodness. I welcome your comments and suggestions. You can communicate with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at Dr. Jerry Hopkins, P. O. Box 1363, Marshall, TX 75671. Dr. Jerry Hopkins is an historian and retired professor