by Pastor Steve Schantz
Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. 6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up! and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isa 43:5-7 NIV)
Etched in my childhood memory is the joy of plodding through thick blankets of untouched winter snow laying over the hillside behind our home in rural upstate New York. Leaving the first set of foot prints in new fallen snow is fun no matter what your age. Journeying across the pillowy canvas, my brother and sister and I would stop and drop, arms and legs flailing as we each carved unique angels in the snow. Every foot print and angel mold became an icon for the snow pilgrims who would follow. Leaving a creative legacy behind doesn’t only capture the imagination of a child, it has also inspired explorers like Sir Edmond Hilary and inventors like Benjamin Franklin.
Three hundred and ten years ago on January 17th Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, MA. His legacy includes great contributions to society as author, printer, statesman, scientist, politician, civic activist, and inventor. Among his unpatented inventions were the lightening rod, bi-focal glasses, the Franklin stove, and a flexible urinary catheter. (Ouch – not fun to think about, but a medical necessity none-the-less.) What you may not know is that the dear Dr. Franklin has also been credited with the concept of paying it forward. When he loaned money to someone in need, he would not accept payment in return, but rather asked that they use this seed money to provide for someone else in his/her time of need.
Last month a unique and precious life came into this world. Andy and Arlette Williams of the Orlando congregation were blessed with a second daughter, Aleeza Kayla Williams. With each newborn, God blesses families with a new beginning. Together they embark on an all original journey of growing, learning, living, and loving. We celebrate the treasured gift of this new life with the Williams as members of the body of Christ.
What will Aleeza put her head, her hands, and her heart into while she crawls, walks, and then runs among us? What beautiful melodies will she contribute to the symphony of life? What challenges will she meet with her all original and gifted determination? What friendships will she forge? Her life and time here will be as unique as her tiny hand and footprints. How will the Lord use her parents, her family and friends, and each of us to encourage her to her pay it forward? What spiritual footprints will she leave?
We all, children and adult alike, have been given the opportunity for a new life in Christ. His feet trod the same earth that ours travel, and he experienced the whole of human life. (I’m not sure Jesus ever made snow angels, but He can call a multitude of real ones by name!) But the beloved of the Father who lived here among us, as one of us, also forged a unique and miraculous path for us with Him into eternity. As we follow Him, we recognize that we’ve been placed here to learn how to live not only for ourselves, but in ways that leave a legacy for others. We were meant to leave more than carbon footprints behind, (which pass almost as quickly as foot prints in the snow.) We each leave behind a spiritual footprint as well. The spiritual DNA of that footprint is the very love of God, shed abroad in our hearts through Christ. Let us continue to follow His footprints as we learn to extend this legacy of love to the next generation.