Did God let you down, turn his back on you, disappoint you when you needed him most? When you prayed so hard and listened so closely for a response, but heard only silence.
And while I am well aware of the poem by Mary Stevenson entitled “Footprints“, for many people I think these words are still not comfort enough.
One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand:
one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life
there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the
very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it.
“Lord, You said that once I decided to follow You,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome
times in my life, there is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why when I needed You most
You would leave me.”
The Lord replied, “My son, My precious child,
I love you and would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”
I must confess that I have often been accused of being someone who has rejected God because of what must have been a similar scenario that occurred in my life. Somehow there must have been a situation in my life that caused me to abandon Christianity, and certainly I will be led back to the fold one day.
Today I want to assure each of you that no such even happened in my life. And perhaps more importantly, I have no anger or disappointment in God. No need for any form of reconciliation, as I have never made a separation.
I am bringing this topic up today, not because of myself, but of friends and Family who may struggle with this. Both in their perception about my practice, and also in their own practice which may have them feeling as though the dhamma is somehow a rejection of God or Christianity.
Because the reality is, that love is boundless. There is no need to distinguish a right or wrong way to love one another, have compassion or live with acceptance and generosity toward one another so long as it is done with a pure heart.
The Buddhist practice is inclusive of all living beings with amity, compassion (karuna), equanimity (upekkha) and loving kindness (metta).
And if you find that you have difficulty with any of this, if you hold on to any anger, then please examine your mind. And if necessary, go back to church and make peace with God. Make peace with yourself.
“Though in thought we range throughout the world,
We’ll nowhere find a thing more dear than self.
So, since others hold the self so dear,
He who loves himself should injure none.”
~ Gautama Buddha