FINDING US FAITHFUL
“Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful!
May the fire of our devotion light their way!
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe!
And the lights we live inspire them to obey!”
[Chorus of the song FIND US FAITHFUL, sung by Steve Green]
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
John Eldredge, author of the book Father by God shared one of his experiences when they were in the wilds of Alaska.
One of the most haunting experiences I have ever had as a man took place on an early summer day in Alaska. My family and I were sea kayaking with humpback whales in the Icy Strait, and we stopped off the Shore of Chicagof Island for lunch. Our guide asked us if we wanted to go for a hike into the interior of the island, to a clearing where grizzlies are known to feed. We were all over that invitation. After a 20 minute walk through the spruce forest, we came to what appeared to be a broad, open meadow about 400 yards across. Being midday, and hot, there were no bears to be seen. “They’re sleeping now, through the afternoon. They’ll be back tonight,” he said. “Come here! I want to show you something.”
The meadow was actually more of a bog, a low-lying jungle of bushy groundcover about two feet high, barely supported underneath by another foot of soaked moss and peat: A very difficult place to walk. Our guide led us to a trail of what seemed to be massive footprints, with a stride of about two feet between them, pressed down into the bog and making a path through it. “It’s a marked trail,” he said. A path created by footprints of the bears. “This one is probably centuries old. For as long as the bears are on this island, they’ve taken this path. The cubs follow their elders, putting their feet exactly where the older bears walked. That is how they learn to cross this place.”
I began to walk on the marked trail, stepping into the firm deep worn places where the bears had walked for centuries. I am not sure how to describe the experience but for some reason, the word holy comes to mind: An ancient and fearful path through a wild and untamed place. I was following a proven way, laid down by those much stronger and far more prepared for this place than me. And though I knew I did not belong there, I was haunted by it, could have followed the path for a long, long time. It awakened some deep ancient yearning in me.
[page ix, Introduction]
All of us are not in the places where we are right now as a direct result of pure self-effort. We are a product of a team. We are a product of a village. It took a team of doctors to deliver us into this world from the wombs of our mothers. It took a team of teachers to inspire and teach us the lessons that we need in life. It took a group of people who are older than us in the faith to be where we are in our spiritual walk with the Lord. We followed them because their lights were and are still burning bright. Sir Isaac Newton once said: “The reason why I see so far is because I stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before me.”
As people, we desperately need something like that marked trail on Chicagof Island. Not more rules, not another list of principles, not formulas. It is a sure path, marked by people that went ahead of us. We can be those people as well. We can leave a trail behind us so that others may follow the path.