Footprints, football and a great big groundhog
Sunday will be interesting.
It’s Feb. 2, or 02/02/2020. Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog will either see his shadow or he won’t, and either the San Francisco 49ers or the Kansas City Chiefs will be crowned Super Bowl LIV champions.
All this makes me think, about several varied things.
1. How could Punx Phil see a shadow with all those spotlights on him? He could probably only see spots.
2. Who trusts a groundhog to tell the weather? Do they think he’s got just as good a shot as a professional meteorologist? Probably.
3. How many rabid 49ers fans are there in Lincoln County? Or Chiefs fans? I can recall seeing exactly one person over this past football season wearing the logo of each team. Those two guys are probably really excited.
4. Super Bowls make me think about soups in bowls — probably because every church I’ve attended since I can remember has used the “Souper Bowl” idea to serve soups and chilis on that Sunday evening to get people to attend church. Works for me. I love soup. And chili. And church. So I’m good.
5. Who knows the future? I sure don’t.
Do you leave things up to chance, or do you plan for the future? Do you organize your finances and invest? Do you work hard to insure you have a job? Do you take care of your health? Save for your children’s education? Plan meals for the week? Plan when to pay a bill? Acknowledge there will be a tomorrow?
Our plans are never set in stone. And even stone can break and be crushed to dust.
Scripture (referring to the Bible here) tells us several things about the future and plans:
• Humans can plan things in our hearts, but God is the one who actually can get us there (Proverbs 16:9).
• In one of the most misquoted and misapplied verses of the Bible, God tells the prophet Jeremiah that he has plans for him — for his good, not for evil, to give him a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
• James warns that people plan arrogantly for the future, never considering what God has in mind for them — “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).
• God’s word is a perfect guide for whatever plans we have or will make — “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
• Our plans are many, but God’s purpose is the one thing that is guaranteed to stand (Proverbs 19:21).
• No matter what we do, seeking God and his kingdom, his righteousness, should be first, so that everything else will be provided for us as we need it (Matthew 6:33).
I don’t place my trust in a pampered pet from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to perfectly prognosticate plans for my perseverance.
No, I can’t say that five times fast. I could barely type it once.
But every time I face something that is so unexpected that it knocks me back on my heels a bit, wondering “Where did that come from?” … I remember that God was never surprised by anything that surprised me.
All the good. All the bad. All the unknown, unexpected and unwanted, God knew was coming.
I know he loves me. I know he has my best interest in mind as he guides my steps. I know he will allow me to encounter things I can’t handle on my own — so I will trust him to help me through.
God never promises — never — to keep us completely out of harm’s way, out of poverty, out of sickness, away from the unpleasantness of this life. But God does promise he will walk beside you as you go through these things, and he will carry you if necessary.
Remember the “Footprints in the Sand” story that was so popular years ago? There’s a slightly altered version I prefer.
In the story, a person is walking with Jesus along the sandy beach and sees their footprints in the sand, side by side. At one point, all the person sees is one set of footprints. Worried, this person asks Jesus why there is only one set of footprints. Why did Jesus leave them then?
Jesus replies that he didn’t leave — those were the times he was carrying the person.
My preferred version continues.
The person sees one set of footprints alongside two long grooves in the wet sand, and asks, “And what are those?”
Jesus replies, “That’s when I had to drag you along to get you where I wanted you to be.”
Humorous, but hits home. I know he’s had to drag me a few times to get me where he wanted me, because I didn’t understand, was too easily distracted. Don’t get me wrong, he won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. But he’ll help you along sometimes.
I don’t know who’ll win the Super Bowl. Maybe by the time you read this, the game is over and it wasn’t who you thought it’d be, either.
And one more thing — Phil might see a shadow, but the weather will do whatever God says. Wait and see.
Brett Campbell is Lifestyles Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.