“It happen’d one Day about Noon going towards my Boat, I was exceedingly surpriz’d with the Print of a Man’s naked Foot on the Shore, which was very plain to be seen in the Sand: I stood like one Thunder-struck, or as if I had seen an Apparition; I listen’d, I look’d round me, I could hear nothing, nor see any Thing, I went up to a rising Ground to look farther, I went up the Shore and down the Shore, but it was all one, I could see no other Impression but that one, I went to it again to see if there were any more, and to observe if it might not be my Fancy; but there was no Room for that, for there was exactly the very Print of a Foot, Toes, Heel, and every Part of a Foot; how it came thither, I knew not, nor could in the least imagine.” – Robinson Crusoe, chapter 18
In Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel “Robinson Crusoe”, there is this famous scene where the main character, Crusoe, stumbles upon a human footprint in the sand. He had thought, up until this point, that he was alone on the island on which he was stranded. His reaction to this find is one of dismay and fear. First he runs and hides in his cave/shelter for three days, fearful of what such a find meant to him. But after the initial shock wore off, he became bolder, and began the adventure of trying to find the foot that made the print.
It makes me think about the Bible.
(No!….I don’t know, maybe. Stay out of this!)
As human beings, we are a lot like Robinson Crusoe. By and large, we start our conscious life with a sense of isolation. We wander through the wreckage of the fall, wondering how we will survive, hardly thinking that there is anything outside our own thoughts and procedures.
Then one day, we stumble upon The Footprint. We work to ignore it…we are, if honest, somewhat frightened by it, and especially the implication it brings…that we are not alone. The Word of God is the footprint in the sand of this earth that reveals to us that we are not alone.
The Footprint itself is quite revealing. To study the footprint we can learn a lot of things…how many toes, how large or small the stride, how deep the imprint is informs of weight. We can even tell how fast or slow the movement was when the footprint was made. But we must not stop there.
What if Crusoe had discovered the footprint, and become obsessed with it as an end in itself? What if Crusoe had measured and studied the print, then built barricades around it to preserve it from being tampered with. What if he’d measured how far his dwelling was from the print, and moved his dwelling to a closer proximity to the print, in order to be more aware of its presence? What if Crusoe had become so familiar with that footprint that he could reproduce it over and over…where he could carve an image of it in wood or stone. What if he had made a motif from its likeness, and wore it on his clothing or hung it around his neck. What if he spent all of his spare time examining the footprint, trying to discover more details about the print he may have missed?
What if he had done all of those things……..but NEVER went to look for the FOOT? His story would have been a mere tedium, and all the adventures that later ensued would have been missed.
The danger which is inherent in a modern endeavor to study the Bible (an endeavor you surely know by now that I passionately encourage) is that we must always remember that we are not trying to catalogue information about the print…..we are looking for The Foot! The Footprint provides some very important information that is helpful to us, but the most important information of all is what direction we should go when setting off on our adventure to find the Foot.
To learn about the Bible, but never live what the Bible reveals, results in a life of religious tedium and its no wonder we seem so short supplied in joy. Let’s look at The Footprint and get our direction….then lets go on the adventure of finding The Foot!
(By the by, thanks to all who have expressed such kind thoughts to me during my time away. It goes a long way toward helping an insecure guy feel loved-thank you!)