Having been involved in radio broadcasting for decades, I am familiar with that term. It means “the area on the surface of the earth within a satellite's transmitter or sensor field of view.” In more user-friendly terms, our “footprint” meant how far the radio signal frequency could reach; how many potential ears could be listening.
In human terms, we understand our footprint to be a mark left by the foot, as in earth or sand. If my foot makes an impression in the sand of the seashore, it soon disappears. If the footprint is in the mud or soil, it can last somewhat longer. It means that someone has been there. (When a super-size footprint is found in the forest, “Bigfoot” is thought to have stomped by.) Like a fingerprint, an impression of the sole of a person's foot may be taken for purposes of identification, as a newborn for a birth certificate.
When I was four years old, my parents built a new house and had me put my little foot in the cement of a step leading into the back porch. It was still there when I left home to get married.
I want to explore still another meaning of our footprint: “the impact or impression that a particular activity, person, or group makes.” What footprint or impact am I making by my life while on the earth? No matter how long I will live or how short my life will have been, it is but a tiny dot when compared to eternity.
Nevertheless, God has entrusted me with life and expects me to be a good steward of it. I am to make a unique footprint for Him, an impression worthy of Him, an image of Him left upon the lives of other people.
Not a selfie-footprint that will be washed away with the tide. A permanent one. Just as our prayers are everlasting when we release them up to God, and our thoughts are recorded in God's book of remembrance, so my impact on every person I have ever encountered is everlasting—and I am impacted by their footprint. Every step I make in life is as if I made it in cement. Footsteps can be heard and footprints can be seen. Every word I say, every deed I do, as well as every word I forgot to say, or act which I neglected to do. Yes, every discouraging or negative word, every unworthy deed also leaves a footprint in cement. What a sobering thought!
Footprints are supposed to lead somewhere; they are meant to be followed. The footprints God expects me to make should lead others to Him by way of the Cross and the Empty Tomb. They are meant to draw people upward not lead them downward. When Jesus called men to discipleship, He beckoned “Follow Me.” Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). People can no longer see Jesus' visible footprints on the soil of Planet Earth, but they can see my footprints. I am responsible for where my footprints lead others.
Saint Paul offered himself as a model for early Christians taking their first steps in their new faith. “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you...” (2 Thess. 3:7-9). Yes, Paul, your footprints were worthy and wonderful. But I am only a humble twenty-first century follower with often unworthy footprints for anyone to follow. Nevertheless, I have no choice. I make footprints daily.
When I was a child I was closely bonded to my Daddy. I stuck to him like a burr. Whenever he did yard work I would follow him and try to put my small feet into his big footprints. Likewise, I must stick close to my Father in Heaven and put my feet in the footprints of Jesus if I in turn hope that people will follow me to Him.
"If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also” John 12:26).