Chuck Terrill: Footprints in the sand updated

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Most people have read or heard the folk poem “Footprints in the Sand.”

I have seen the poem hanging on the wall in a number of homes. I have read it aloud, by request, a good number of times, at funerals.


“Footprints in the Sand” tells of a woman who dreamed that she saw the struggles of her life depicted in a walk beside the sea with God. Most of the time, she saw that there were two sets of footprints. Yet, she noticed that during the most difficult times of her life, only one set of footprints appeared in the sand.

In her dream, she asked God about the single set of footprints and was told that those were the times God carried her.

Allow me to share with you another version of the poem that I received by email. You know how these things go, there is no way of knowing who the original author is. Like the original poem, we’ll just have to label it ‘anonymous.’

One night I had a wondrous dream,

One set of footprints there was seen,

The footprints of my precious Lord,

But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,

And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?

Those prints are large and round and neat.

But Lord, they are too big for feet.”

“My child,” he said in somber tones,

“For miles I carried you alone.

I challenged you to walk in faith,

But you refused and made me wait.” 

“You disobeyed, you would not grow,

The walk of faith, you would not know.

So I got tired, I got fed up.

And there I dropped you on your butt.” 

Because in life, there comes a time,

When one must fight, and one must climb,

When one must rise and take a stand,

Or leave their butt prints in the sand.

Hallmark probably won’t print it on a greeting card. I don’t think I’ll see this poem framed, and hanging on your wall. Even so, “Butt prints in the Sand” has its merits. 

Apathy, inertia, or lethargy creep into the human life. There are those times in our lives when we are doing little, and we know it. We see what needs to be done, but instead of responding we make excuses: “But...this, but...that, but...the other thing.” There is very little action, but there are all too many “buts.”

An old college professor of mine once said, “Pray like everything depends upon God and work as if everything depends upon you.” I think that is pretty good advice. I don’t want to leave any butt prints in the sand.

“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (Jesus; John 9.4).


Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 417-847-2460.