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The Inspirational 'Footprints In The Sand' Poem

Updated on January 6, 2013

This is my story of how the poem “Footprints In The Sand” birthed in me a higher level of trust and confidence in the faithfulness of God to carry me through and overcome a difficult situation as a teenager.

The poem 'Footprints In The Sand' was originally written by a 14 year old teenager, Mary Stevenson in 1936. It has inspired countless people all over the world and as a teenager, it has had a lasting impact on my life.

Life in a Boarding School

The year was 1991 in which I was doing Grade 9 at Rai Coast High School, a rural boarding school in the Madang Province of Papua New Guinea. Life in a rural boarding school back then had its own advantages and disadvantages. It was then a new school established by my late dad William Sawang, who was the local MP for the electorate.

The school was self-sufficient in terms of food and that I always like. The school had huge farm land where we grew our own food, fruits and vegetables in abundance all year round. The school also had a poultry farm and a piggery. Everyday, the student mess will be filled with organically grown fresh fruits, vegetables and other food crops for student consumption.

I hated the morning work parades which we had from Monday to Saturday. The afternoon work parades are from Monday to Thursday only while Friday is sports day and Sunday is day off.

Being a teenager, leaving my parents, our home and attending a boarding school is a challenge in itself. Some of my friends were good influence while others were not. I wasn’t that bad, I guess I was okay. I believe that is why I was made the school canteen keeper – in fact I am honest and money does not tempt me. I actually did a good job without pay to earn the trust. I loved being the canteen keeper because I hated the afternoon work parades of working in the farm under the hot and humid tropical weather.

I attended that boarding school for four years and many things that happened there has shaped my future life. I thank God for His faithfulness and grace to see me through that chapter of my life.

Footprints in the Sand Original Version

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.

Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,

Other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed

That during the low periods of my life,

When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,

I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,

"You promised me Lord, that if I followed You,

You would walk with me always.

But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life

There have only been one set of footprints in the sand.

Why, when I needed You most, You have not been there for me?"

The Lord replied,

"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you"

.....Mary Stevenson.....1936

The Drugs

One day two police vehicles came to the school in search of drugs following reports of marihuana-smoking by students. They raided several boys dormitories but did not find any drugs in the possession of the suspected ring leaders. In my class (9B), I shared the desk with a boy whom I never suspected be be involved with drugs.

He had in his possession 1 kilogram of dried marihuana leaves stacked together and put into a plastic bag. During the science class, when I was busy with my group on our project, he put the drugs into the side pocket of my bag and I never knew about it.

In the evening when I was unpacking my bag, I noticed the plastic. I opened it and there I found the drugs. The smell of it made my head ache and spin. I reported the matter immediately to the duty teacher and handed over the drugs to her.

The following day, I was interrogated by the police and the headmaster of the school. It was scary and very stressful. Everybody in the class, including my desk mate, denied ownership of the package. I feared that I might get suspended, arrested or charged. I feared what my parents would do to me.


The Poem ‘Footprints in the Sand’

That day, I walked to the dormitory with my head down and my eyes clouded with tears. As I walked, I prayed to God, to reveal whom the package belonged to. As I entered the dormitory, the wind blew a paper to my feet. I picked it up and read the poem Footprints in the Sand. That was my first time to come across this poem.

The words touched my heart and I wept. I read it over and over and I let it sink into my spirit that even today, I can quote it by heart. I believed that God carried me through that situation.

The poem birthed in me a higher level of trust and confidence in the faithfulness of God to see us through any situation and circumstance.

Today, I am thankful that the Holy Spirit inspired Mary Stevenson to write this beautiful and powerful poem – Footprints in the Sand.


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