Follow His Steps!
George Everard, 1881
"Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21
A little boy was walking with his father through the deep, newly-fallen snow; but he could scarcely make his way. So his father, shortening his strides, went on before, and told the boy to put his feet in the footprints which he had made. Doing this, he was able to proceed.
So if I belong to Christ, I must tread in His footsteps. I must walk where He walked. I must look to see where He placed His foot, and, by His grace, I must strive to follow after Him. He has said, "If any man serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be." I must make it my constant aim to follow Jesus wherever He goes. Trusting only for salvation in His faithful promise and in His atoning death — I must show that I am His by copying His example, and treading heedfully the path in which He has gone before me.
But where can I trace the footprints of Christ Jesus?
I see them in the Valley of Humility. Though so highly exalted, yet He stooped to take the lowest place. He was meek and lowly in heart. He was born in a stable, and died on a malefactor's cross. He despised none who came to Him. He dwelt among the poor. He probably toiled in the carpenter's shop at Nazareth. He took the place of a servant, and washed the feet of the disciples.
If I am Christ's, I too must be of the same spirit. I must lay aside all pride and self-conceit. I must be clothed with humility. I must give way to those around me, when I see that it will be for good. In my words and actions I must often yield to the wish of others, and crucify self-will and self-pleasing. Above all, I must ever keep humble before God.
I see these footprints on the Mount of Prayer. At early dawn, and when wearied with the labors of a busy day, Christ resorted to the mountain-top for communion with His Father in Heaven. At one time we know that He went out and spent the whole night in prayer to God. He thus found rest and refreshment to His spirit. Away from the contradiction of sinners, and from the mistakes of His disciples; away from the sight of evil that oppressed Him, He poured out His soul before His Father, and was thus prepared again to go forth and finish the work given Him to do.
Here, too, I must follow in the same steps. I must live a life of prayer. I must make it my constant delight. I must pray in the morning and in the evening, and often lift up my heart in silent prayer through the day. In prayer I must roll on God the burden that weighs upon me, and must wait on Him that my strength may be renewed.
I see these footprints in the Temple, and in the Synagogue. Christ loved His Father's courts. In His early days He was found by many in the Temple. In His last days He was often walking there, doing His Father's work. At Nazareth, He was accustomed in the synagogue to worship, and to hear or to read the Word of God.
And the Christian will love the house of prayer. It is there, where ever so small a number are met together, that Christ promises to meet those who worship in His name. It is there I may gain help for my pilgrimage. There I hear the message of redeeming love. There I join in singing the songs of Zion. I go there to the Supper which Christ has provided for His people. And shall I not delight to go again and again, whenever the opportunity is given me? Shall I not thus gain fresh blessing to my soul, and openly confess the name of Him I love?
I see these footprints on the Highway of Holiness. Christ was "holy, harmless, and undefiled, and separate from sinners." Though living for many years in a place like Nazareth — yet no evil thing ever polluted His soul. He was ever mingling with sinners at every turn, sitting down with publicans and outcasts, yet He Himself was ever without blemish and without spot. Like a sunbeam penetrating the darkest abodes of vice and wickedness, yet itself undefiled — so was it with Christ. No man could convict Him of sin. In Him was never found one word spoken amiss, one unholy thought, one selfish or sinful act. His whole life was holiness, and purity, and love.
And on this highway of holiness my footsteps must tread. Though a sinner to the heart's core, yet I must ever be putting off the old man and put on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness. I must hate and abhor every evil thing. I must yield to no sin. I must mortify the deeds of the body. I must overcome, by the grace of the Spirit, all covetousness, passion, love of the world, murmuring, and whatever is contrary to the mind of Christ. I must aim at the highest standard. I must cultivate the spirit of true love. I must desire to love Christ far above all earthly treasures; and, for His sake, I must cherish a spirit of holy charity towards all men. Thus I must ever be perfecting holiness in the fear of God, and be more and more conformable in all things to His will.
I see these footprints in the abodes of sorrow and desolation. Jesus went once to a marriage feast — but many times to the house of mourning. He cheered the hearts of the sisters of Bethany. He dried the tears of the widow at Nain. He entered the house of Jairus, and restored to him his only daughter. So was it wherever He went. He was ever ready to comfort mourners, and relieve the sorrow-stricken, burdened hearts. Five short words sum up the life of Christ. "He went about doing good."
Nor must the disciple shrink from following Christ in this also. It may require self-denial and self-sacrifice, but it is the life to which He calls us, and which brings the richest reward.
To feed the hungry, and comfort the sorrowful; to sit by the bedside of the sick and the dying, or to whisper words of consolation in the ear of the bereaved; to lessen the woes which burden our earth; above all, to rescue the perishing, and bring wanderers back to the footstool of mercy — all this is blessed work. It is angel's work, and those who engage in it shall be watered themselves as they strive to water others.
Lastly, I see these footprints on the path that leads to Calvary. Christ endured the cross, despising the shame. He was content all through His life to bear reproach, and scorn, and mockery; at last He ended His days by suffering a cruel, agonizing death.
And the Christian must suffer with Christ — if he would reign with Him. I must needs take up the cross, and be willing patiently to bear tribulation for Christ's sake. If I be reproached for His name, it is a glory and an honor; and whatever sorrow or suffering is appointed me, I must accept it as from a Father's hand. "May Your will be done."
Thus shall I be journeying homeward. If I fall, Christ will lift me up. He will forgive my many faults and failings. He will strengthen me by His Spirit, and uphold me with His right hand. So shall I reach the heavenly home, "Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes!" Revelation 7:16-17