Friends, let me introduce you to my dad.
He’s 78, an avid cyclist, mechanical engineer by training, awesome dad and grandfather and (my mom tells me) husband too. He was born in 1935 and grew up fairly stoically during the Depression. For most of my life, emotions — feeling and expressing them — has lets just say not been his strong suit. He has been a Jesus-follower his whole life, but only in the past 10-15 years has his relationship with God taken him toward a more available emotional life. All of us who love him really really love this change — my children most of all, who have only known their Bop Bop as a man who laughs and sings and cries too, and now who writes his own poems and reads them in community! My dad is living proof that the journey of faith is always, always further up and further in.
I asked my dad if I could post his very first sacred poem, and so with his permission, here is the ‘superscript” and poem. He was a little hesitant because he’s no poet laureate and I reminded him duh, none of us are! We write, not because what we produce is necessarily “good” by some professional standard but because the act of writing is an act of faith that creates sacred space for us to develop our own voice with God and be better able to hear God in antiphony.
Part of why I love his poem is that it is subversive of good old fashioned “christian culture” — he takes aim at that poem, Footprints in the Sand (a poem which I truly despise — I’m so sorry if you like it! Its like Thomas Kincade art to me … wonderful people adore it but, friends, for me “Footprints” and Kincade art are just a huge, giant, um NO).
So without further adieu … I’m proud of you dad!
About six months ago, a really good friend of mine emailed to me a copy of a poem entitled “Buttprints in the Sand.” As you may have guessed, this poem was a take-off on the original poem “Footprints in the Sand” which expressed the author’s view of the way in which God deals with His children during tough times. He carries them Himself.
By contrast, the poem my friend sent to me posited that God gets tired and annoyed carrying me when I lack the willingness or am too afraid to step-out in faith. He just drops me on my butt in the sand and leaves me there to get my attention. Well, I did not believe that God deals with me, His child, that way nor did my friend. So I wrote a sequel (really a rebuttal, no pun intended) entitled “Faceplant in the Sand.” I know my friend shares this view of our God because she said after reading my attempt at poetry “it’s all of grace, isn’t it”.
Faceplant in the Sand*
A Fellow Traveler’s Sequel to “Buttprints in the Sand” (Anon) and what happened to him when the LORD did not leave him there, butt in the sand
So then, ere just a moments pause
with butt still in the sand,
I hear You plainly telling me
I’ll not permit you stay.
For You had called me long ago
to Follow and Obey,
Not count the cost, or weigh the load,
just walk and talk with You.
So off we went, my LORD and I,
on path you chose for me.
It’s narrow, slippery, perilous and steep,
no ease, as I want it be
Now weary again, I lose my way
my strength and will too weak
In such a state I fall anew,
My Faceplant in the Sand
I’m finished I think, no one to help
just full dirt and grime,
Afraid to move, Fear overcomes
I lie Face Down In The Sand.
But then I sense a gentle nudge
and feel You lift me up
With feet again on path You chose
By Grace, my walk renews.
I did not stay long with Face in Sand
With sin and self atop
Your Grace was sufficient and Love overcame
My Faceplant in the Sand
So when I fail and sink anew
and sin so easily besets,
I have no fear, for now I trust,
Your Grace will see me through.
By: A Fellow Traveller
By John Newton
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
T’was Grace that brought me safe thus far
And Grace will bring me home
*For those of you that have never experienced the joy of downhill skiing in powder, a “Faceplant” occurs when you fall, head first, and go face down in the snow. Not pretty!