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Volume 9, Issue 2: Similitudes

Footprints

Douglas Wilson

I dreamed, and behold, it was a strange dream, one with extra pepperoni.

In my dream, I was walking along a solitary beach. On the sand before me were two sets of footprints. After a time, I looked, and lo! one set of footprints had vamoosed. I pondered these things in my heart. What does this mean?
When I looked up I saw in the distance a stranger standing along my path. He looked to be a wise man, and so I stopped my pilgrimage that I might ask him a query or two.
"Stranger," said I, "What do these footprints here in the sand mean? There are two sets of prints, but sometimes there is only one. What could it mean?"
He looked at the sand for a moment, and then he quietly said, "How should I know?"
"Could it not be," I spake, pressing him further, "that the Lord was walking with me here on the beach, and that when times got hard, the one set of footprints means that the Lord carried me, only I thought it meant He deserted me for a time, but it wasn't true after all, and that I didn't have enough faith?"
"Suit yourself," the stranger said, "But I think it only fair to point out that the footprints are already here, and you just got here. Were you through here earlier?"
"No," said I.
"Well, how could they be your footprints then?" he said, arguing the point closely.
"I do not know," I said. "But I have faith that this must be the case. Do you not have faith? Are you not an angel sent here to encourage wayfaring travelers and pilgrims?"
"No," he said. "I am a tourist who walked down here from the motel to feed the seagulls. When my wife finishes getting ready, we are going to drive into town and go to Sea World."
"But don't you have faith?"
"Not faith that believes wayfaring pilgrims can make footprints when they haven't been here yet."
"But look," said I, taking off my backpack. "Here is a plaque that describes this very situtation. Don't you see? This is a sign."
"Like I said before, pal. Suit yourself."
In truth, I was starting to get righteously annoyed. Life is hard and sharp-edged enough without cynics popping up everywhere debunking those precious truths once for all delivered to the saints through Christian gift centers everywhere by means of plaques and those cute figurines.
"Look," said I, getting to the heart of the matter, "I am not your pal."
"Suit yourself," said he. And grinned.
It was the grin that did it. I thought about the inspirational words on my plaque, and I thought of his taunting irreverance, and so I slowly drew myself up to my full height.
"Friend," I said. "Are you born again?"
"Not if you are," said he.
Howling, I poked him in the eye. He grabbed me by the lapels of my windbreaker, and we scuffled back and forth on the solitary, windswept beach. I am not in shape like I should be, so we fell apart panting after a few moments. I haven't been using my evangelical aerobics videotape the way I should. As I panted for breath, I looked down.
"Look what you did to my footprints!" I spoke with a holy dismay.
"Good riddance," said he. "And they are not your footprints."
I pierced him with a smoldering eye. "We have been over this ground before."
"I don't think so," he said. "At least you haven't." And grinned again.
I stopped. What can we do against such unbelief when the secular humanists have control of the media? When the foundations are being destroyed what can the righteous do?
I stooped sadly to put the plaque back in my knapsack. Then spiritual conviction fell upon me. I stopped. What would Jesus have me do?
"Would you like my plaque? " said I, looking up.
"Does it have any pictures of Elvis on it?" he asked.
"No," said I.
"Then, no," said he.
"Pardon me," I said, "but what does Elvis have to do with all this?"
"I don't know," he said honestly. "He just seemed to fit in somehow."
One more chance. One more chance, I thought. After that, I would shake the sand off my flip-flops.
"Friend, how do you explain the two sets of footprints, and then only one? How do you explain that?"
"I don't know," he said. "I am not a theologian. Maybe those were the times when you were off replenishing your hashish."
I grimaced. "So you still do not have faith."
"No, but I do have quite a story for my wife."

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