Jump Start # 2739
Psalms 42:8 “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.”
We started a mini series yesterday focusing upon some of our hymns. We are giving a little background story to the hymn and then making some application and connections to us. There is no particular order in the hymns I have chosen other than I like them.
The hymn we look at today is: FOOTPRINTS OF JESUS. This song takes me back to a child at the Emerson Avenue congregation in Indianapolis. That’s where I first heard and first fell in love with this song. It is interesting how hymns can take us back to funerals or worship services decades ago. Warm feelings. Wonderful and precious memories.
The lyrics of this hymn were authored by Mary Slade. She was born in Massachusetts in 1826 and died in 1882. She authored many other hymns including, “Who at my door is standing,” and, “Tell it again.” Mary was a school teacher and assistant editor of the New England Journal of Education. Footprints of Jesus was written in 1870. The music was written by Asa Everett. Originally the hymn had seven verses, but in most modern songbooks it has been trimmed down to just three.
Footprints of Jesus, that make the pathway glow; we will follow the steps of Jesus where’re they go. That’s the chorus, but that’s also the call of our Lord.
- Luke 9:23 “…If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
- Matthew 19:21 “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow Me.”
- Matthew 4:19 “And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”
- Matthew 8:22 “But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.’”
And, when we follow those divine footprints of Jesus, where do they take us? What do we see?
First, we see the footprints of compassion. Jesus loved. Jesus cared. He was with all people, including outcasts, unclean and those not approved of by the Jewish system. His heart was touched by what He saw. You don’t see Jesus caring about crops, barns, fences, bugs, financial reports, but rather people. People made in the image of God. People that He came to die for. People that were lost. People that had made mistakes. People that had messed up their lives. People that problems. Jesus cared. And, as we follow those footsteps of Jesus, they will take us to places and people that we may not enjoy. It may lead us to broken hearts at a funeral home. It may take us to hospital bedsides. It may take us to homes where marriages are falling apart. It may take us to jails where young people have made mistakes. Jesus didn’t wait until people got cleaned up before He loved them. He loved them, dirty as they were. And, so must we. We must pray for all. We must do what we can for all. Following those footsteps will lead us there.
Second, we see the footsteps of righteousness. That’s how Jesus lived. He was tempted, yet He was without sin. He was holy. He was pure. He was obedient to His Father. He wasn’t a rebel. He wasn’t going against His Father’s will. And, if we are following Jesus, we’ll need to walk with Him into the fields of righteousness. That means we must work on our attitudes. Less complaining and more thankful. Less pointing the fingers at others and more working on ourselves. Less talking and more listening. It also means, working on our words. Tone down the sharpness. Be more patient. Be forgiving and extend grace. It means being righteous in our walk of life. As we follow the steps of Jesus, others will follow our steps. They see Jesus through us. Make sure what they see is the true picture.
Third, we follow the steps of Jesus in suffering. That’s the specific language of Peter. Jesus left us an example to follow, he tells us. Reviled, He did not revile back. He uttered no threats. His example needs to be our example. No fighting back. No cursing. No threatening to get even. No kicking and screaming. No violence. Jesus taught us and then showed us, turn the cheek. Go the extra mile. Pray for your enemies. Do good to all. Our times certainly needs this. We get too many folks willing to push those who do not agree with them. Those pushed, want to push back. And, before long, an ugly melee takes place. Anger, hatred, finger pointing, accusations fill the air, but no one is acting like Jesus.
Fourth, we follow the steps of Jesus all the way Home. That’s where His steps lead us. It’s more than a better life here. It’s more than being civil. His steps take us to Heaven. The hymn states, “we will rest where the steps of Jesus end at His throne.” Keep going until He stops us. Keep following. Keep up. It will all be worth it. It is now, but even more so in the eternal.
An interesting side point about Mary Slade who wrote the hymn Footprints of Jesus. Mary lived in Fall River, Massachusetts. There was another well known woman from that same town. About a decade after Mary died, a woman by the name of Lizzie Borden was tried for the hatchet murder of her father and step-mother.
Two women from the same town. One reminds us of our wonderful walk with the Lord. The other, famous for crimes and sins against her family and her Lord.
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard thee calling, ‘Come, follow Me!”