What signs are you leaving on the footpath of life?

sidewalk encouragement

There was graffiti periodically inscribed along the walking trail that parallels John Brown University.  As I walked down Dogwood and turned onto Cheri Whitlock I saw phrases such as “Run like the wind.  You are beautiful.  Keep going.  You’re doing a good job.  Kick it.  Drink water.  You’re almost to the water.” Whether one person or many wrote those words I do not know.  It seemed obvious; however, these were words of encouragement; perhaps for the Panther high school track team or the JBU college runners. Did the coach make a person or persons write predetermined phrases or did a member of the team take it upon themselves to encourage their team mates?  Encouragement is welcome on any footpath, but especially life’s footpath.

There are the common encouragements that come with good grades, job promotions, sporting acumen, or public awards.  The accompanying signs are sometimes a photo or story in the local newspaper.  The sign may be a diploma. Sometimes it is a shingle on an office building or a bigger number on the paycheck.  All these signs, encouragements, are welcome.

Some signs that line the byways of life are not as easily seen.  Last week was Homecoming for JBU. An alumnus was overheard commenting not on the alums success, but memories from years before and the relationships that made them fond ones.  Looking back it was not the grades, popularity, or financial standing that the reunion special.  It was the relationship begun earlier that made the time spent now special.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  In Ecclesiastes it says, “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”  Excellence and friendship make strong enduring signs.  They may seem common when first placed, yet valued when a person retraces their steps.

Some signs are easily seen.  Other signs mark lives instead of events or places.  When they seek to point people in the right direction or encourage them along the way, they are enjoyed and appreciated time and time again.

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