Editor’s note: This devotion can be used with the “Footprints” bookmark for kids from ctainc.com. This includes a child-friendly version of the popular “Footprints” poem as well as with Scripture and would be a great tool to distribute to the children in your ministry.
(To get started, find and print out several photos of rabbit, deer, bear, dog, or any animal tracks in the snow or mud. [Use your favorite internet search engine.] Better yet, borrow a plaster casting of animal footprints from a science teacher.
Have you ever seen animal tracks in the snow or mud? What tracks have you seen? How can you tell what animal made the tracks? (Invite volunteers to answer.) Each kind of animal makes a different kind of track; rabbit tracks look quite different from fox tracks, because God created rabbits’ feet to be quite different than the paws of foxes. (Show the photos or castings of animal tracks if you brought them and point out the differences. Let the children guess what kind of animal made each track.)
Scientists, hunters, and people who enjoy being outdoors in nature often look for animal tracks in the snow in wintertime. In spring, summer, and fall, they find animal tracks in the soft mud near ponds, rivers, or lakes.
If you know what to look for, animal tracks can tell a whole story! You can figure out what kind of animals and birds have been near the creek, for example. Sometimes you can tell about how many animals have been there. If you study the tracks, you might even be able to make a good guess about what happened while they were there.
Animal footprints can tell a whole story!
Suppose we could see our own footprints from yesterday—or the past week or the past year. Suppose we could see all the footprints of our lives. What do you think that would look like? (Let volunteers comment; draw out the idea that the footprints would be very complicated, but they would tell the story of our lives at school, at the park or playground, at home and church, in the neighborhood, and so on.)
One day, someone was thinking about how footprints tell stories and wrote a poem about it. Listen:
A child once dreamed he saw his life as pictures in the sky.
Sometimes four footprints marked the path. He knew God walked close by.
But other times, one set of prints was all that he could see.
His eyes filled up with tears. He cried, “You walked away from me!”
“My precious child,” God said. “Look back. You thought you were alone.
I love you. I would never leave. You weren’t left on your own.
“That single set of prints was MINE. Your feet weren’t on the ground.
When troubles came, I carried you and held you safe and sound.”
What do you think God meant when he said this? (Accept reasonable answers from volunteers.)
One time, Jesus promised his friends, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20 NLT). (Invite the group to repeat those words with you.) Is Jesus with us in the good times of life? (Yes, always!) What are some of those good times? (Let volunteers suggest some. Then repeat the Bible words.) Is Jesus there in life’s hard times? (Yes, always!) What are some hard times? (Let volunteers suggest some. Then repeat the Bible words.)
Let’s pray about all this: Dear Jesus, you have promised to be with me always. You have kept that promise and you will keep that promise. Thank you! Teach me to trust you more and more and more. Amen.