Footprints in the Sand

March 10, 2019

This Lent we are focusing on The Pathway that Leads us to Redemptive Love.  In our lives there are many paths to choose from.  Every path leads us somewhere.  This Lent we want to be wise to choose the ones that lead to experiences of God’s redemptive love.  Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit to enter the desert.  What kind of shoes do we need in the desert?  What do we expect to see?  Our vision of a desert might include cactus plants, sandy landscapes and very little vegetation.  Our picture of a desert might have rocks that have been worn down by the wind.  But I guess, most of us will think of hot sun, no shade and nowhere to hide.  It is into that desert God might want us to enter.  In the desert Jesus relies on the power of the Holy Spirit to lead Him and the power of His relationship with God to protect Him.  His feet led Him to a place where He could not hide.  Evil comes to Him when there is no place to hide.  It lurks in the comfort of wanting comfort.  When exposed, it lashes with a fury of darkness that only God can ensnare.  The devil shows his card in the openness of the desert.  His manipulation is out in the open.  He knows our desire for comfort and power.  Jesus stays true to the pathway because He knows He has been led with the protection of the redeeming love He would reveal by giving His own life and death for payment of our sins.  The redemptive love comes to Him in His knowing He is not alone.  The Spirit never leaves Him.

In the desert of our lives, in the pathway of this week, we are to go out to that place where all is seen and nothing is hidden.  We must go to that place where we are honest, vulnerable and exposed and evil will also have no place to hide.  The desert is not an easy place.  If this week becomes too easy we must ask ourselves, did we go far enough into the desert?  Many images of the Footprints in the Sand narrative have been printed, framed and visualized—First two sets of footprints and then one.  It is a powerful reflection in which Jesus says those places of one set of footprints are the times He carried us.  In the desert He will carry us; in the desert the devil will be defeated, not by us, but by the One who carries us.

It is not easy to face evil.  In my life I have learned through powerful reflection and the help of a spiritual director where evil lurks.  For me as a deadline person, my deepest reflections come right before I am to see my director.  It is then that clarity comes from working at articulating the movement of God in my life.  This happens for us too when we seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The examination of conscience becomes intensified at that time.  God is remarkably present in the process, just like He was in the desert with Jesus.

Put on your sandals and run into the desert as far as you can.  Only in the pure exposure of the desert can true evil be revealed and we will know God is real and He will carry us.  May this path lead us to His redemptive love.

Reverend  John J. Ouper