The wintertime gets a great deal of hate because of the cold weather, the nasty storms, the lack of sunlight, and what seems an overly long length. One thing most people do enjoy is the day of “first snow.” If you live in a place where snow is a regular occurrence or grew up in such a place, you may remember snow days! These were some of the most joyous times—that in 2020 (with the advent of remote learning) many students will not experience. Gone are the days of eating cereal while watching your favorite shows and spending the day sledding, having snowball fights, and generally vegging out—after shoveling, of course!
Stepping in freshly fallen snow is a top ten experience for me. A few weeks back, New York had snow for the first time this year, and I went on a walk to clear my head, which seems ever so crowded. What I learned on the walk through the wintery mix was how difficult it is to get around in snow that is nearly knee-high and untrodden! What started to make my walk MUCH easier was looking for the footsteps of others who had gone before me. Maybe they, too, were caffeine addicts in search of a liquid fix, or early-morning dog walkers, or fellow citizens clearing their heads on long walks as well. These boot-size holes in the snow became my guide to walking around my neighborhood without falling down.
Following in Others’ Footsteps
Walking in the footsteps of those who went before is a lesson in the Christian life as well. For those young people in our care, whether they are Sunday School children, past students, youth group members, or students in a classroom where you educate, guidance is such a core desire. It is human to wonder where we will end up or how we are supposed to do things.
External validation of our path is a human desire we see throughout Scripture but especially in the lives of the disciples. They question constantly, and in the account of the resurrection—after spending significant amounts of time with Jesus, their rabbi (teacher)—they remain unsure. In Luke 24:38, Jesus appears to them after being raised from the dead. They are terrified, thinking He is a ghost. He asks them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” This is reminiscent of the account of Peter doubting the Lord Jesus in his walk of faith on the water. What happens in both accounts is that humankind does not see clearly what is in front of them in God.
The Psalms have an answer for our moments of confusion, and great comfort may be found for those who seek guidance there. Our young people seek this out, and so do we. The Psalms speak of the Lord being a lamp unto our feet; they predict Jesus’ coming and His sacrifice on the cross, which cleanses us of our sins. They give the gift of an undivided heart and show us the paths of our steadfast Lord. The one that is most relatable to walking through freshly fallen snow unsure of what is beneath, just as we walk through life unsure of what is ahead, is found in Psalm 40:2. It reads, “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”
God Secures Your Steps
Secure steps are provided by God. We may think we arrive here by our own devices and carefully ordered decisions, but it is indeed the Lord who orders our steps. HE is the one who provides the giant boot-like footprint for us to step in, the one who reorients us when we are disoriented, and the one who drags us out of destruction and into His goodness. When young people ask us what they should do, who they can trust, and how things will be, it is ludicrous to answer with anything other than relying on God. This is not meant to be dismissive but rather to be an amazing opportunity to show them how to take it to the Lord in prayer. One of our strongest witnesses is modeling behavior. This works for the very young but is not lost on our tweens and teens either. How we handle problems and how we share methods can be a breath of fresh air amid the confusion we often find ourselves in on this side of heaven.
This winter season, may we walk alongside our young people in deciphering direction for the future, and may we fall into the footsteps of our Lord Jesus, who came down that we may have life. May His incarnation and our isolation combine for an iteration of love in action.
Guide youth as they wrestle with the question “Who am I?”