Answer: There are many ways to answer this question. Some are theological, some are procedural, some are scriptural... And we may come back to some of those at a later time. Right now, I would rather use one that I saw some years ago that is more inspirational. You may be familiar with the story about “Footprints in the Sand,” regarding a dream that a person had about walking with Jesus, and at the most difficult times there was only one set of footprints. The response from the Lord was, “My child, that was the time I carried you...” The following story is called “Footprints with a Twist.” I hope you like it as much as I do.
Footprints with a Twist......
Imagine you and the Lord Jesus are walking down the road together. For much of the way, the Lord's footprints go along steadily, consistently, rarely varying the pace. But your footprints are a disorganized stream of zigzags, starts, stops, turnarounds, circles, departures and returns. For much of the way, it seems to go like this, but gradually your footprints come more in line with the Lord's, soon paralleling His consistently. You and Jesus are walking as true friends!
This seems perfect, but then an interesting thing happens: Your footprints, that once etched the sand next to Jesus', are now walking precisely in His steps. Inside His larger footprints are your smaller ones, safely enclosed. You and Jesus are becoming one. This goes on for many miles, but gradually you notice another change. The footprints inside the large footprints seem to grow larger.
Eventually they disappear altogether. There is only one set of footprints; they have become one. This goes on for a long time, but suddenly the second set of footprints is back. This time it seems even worse! Zigzags all over the place. Stops....Starts....Deep gashes in the sand. A veritable mess of prints. You are amazed and shocked. Your dream ends.
Now you pray: “Lord, I understand the first scene with zigzags and turns. I was a new Christian; I was just learning. But you walked on through the storm and helped me learn to walk with you.”
“That is correct.”
“... and when the smaller footprints were inside of Yours, I was actually learning to walk in Your steps; followed you very closely.”
“Very good. You have understood everything so far.”
“... when the smaller footprints grew and filled in Yours, I suppose that I was becoming like you in every way.”
“So, Lord, was there a regression or something? The footprints separated, and this time it was worse than at first.”
There is a pause as the Lord answers with a smile in his voice.
“ You didn't know? That was when we danced.”