by Armand Boehme
Today in Almaty, Kazakhstan, I walked in the footsteps of Leon Trotsky.
He was one of the infamous “heroes” of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 along with Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. Trotsky fell out of grace with Stalin who then banished Trotsky, his former ally, to Almaty in 1928.
Today, I walked the very hallways of the hotel in which Trotsky and his family lived for a short time during their year-long stay in Almaty. Today, I climbed the very steps Trotsky climbed. Today, I visited the area of Almaty where his house used to stand. The house was torn down after he was declared a “non-person,” and today a new high-rise building stands in its place.
Many buildings in Kazakhstan have plaques on them commemorating famous people who lived there—poets, playwrights, government leaders, authors, teachers, and soldiers. But even though Trotsky is much better known throughout the world than these other memorialized people, there is no evidence that he ever lived here in Almaty. There are no plaques on the side of the former hotel where he lived, nor is there one on the new high-rise to inform passersby to the fact that Trotsky lived in the house that formerly stood in this spot. I’m sure that those who occupy the new high-rise building are unaware that such an infamous person as Trotsky ever lived on that ground.
There is no visible evidence of Trotsky’s footsteps or presence in any of these places. Were it not for the help of Rev. Gennadij Khonin, whose family had a great deal of contact with the Trotskys while they lived in Almaty, I would still be unaware of Trotsky’s presence here and of the places where he lived—or of the fact that daily I walk in Trotsky’s footsteps.
Whose footsteps did you walk in today? Your father’s? Your mother’s? Your grandfather’s? Your sister’s? Are any of these people famous? Are their names, like Trotsky’s, recorded in history books? Have plaques been erected in their honor?
Did you walk in Jesus’ footsteps today? Did you walk in the way He desires you should walk? Did you turn the other cheek? Did you go the extra mile? Did you forgive instead of holding a grudge? Did you show love even to your enemy? Did you walk in the way of righteousness, or did you stray into the pathways of sin?
To be honest, as Christians, we daily do both. We remain sinners, yet by faith in Christ, we are also God’s saints.
At times, our footsteps truly reflect our saintliness! At times, when others do not recognize our saintly footsteps, we can grow discouraged and wonder if walking righteously is worth the effort. We need to be reminded that doing good deeds is not for public acclaim. They are not to be done so that plaques can be erected in our honor. Nor are they done to make us famous. Rather they are to be done to bring honor and glory to God. They are deeds of love that are done to thank the Giver of salvation for the spiritual gifts we have received in faith.
Christ reminds us to do good simply out of love for Him. If no on else notices, He does. He sees our faith and our righteous footsteps, and He will bless us in His own way and time. So don’t be discouraged if others don’t notice. Out of love for Christ we can continue to do good and will not grow weary.
Just as our footsteps reflect our faith, at times they reflect the rebelliousness of sin that lurks within each and every one of us. Daily we walk in the footsteps of Christ and in the footsteps of the devil. The Spirit leads us to kneel in penitent faith, confessing our sins, asking God to be merciful to us sinners. And by God’s grace in Christ, our ears will hear God’s words of forgiveness: “I forgive you all your sins!”
In penitent faith we are led by the Spirit to walk to God’s altar, to receive Christ’s true body and blood for the forgiveness of all our sins. There we are blessed with the gifts of Christ’s perfect righteousness, grace, and mercy. There we are equipped to walk in more righteous pathways.
This is why God urges and commands us to have our footsteps enter His house at each and every opportunity, not to fulfill the demands of the Law, not to receive plaques and human honor, but because there we receive free gifts of love from Christ our Savior.
Think back to when you were dating your spouse. Did he or she need to bribe you to get you to come over for a visit or to go on a date? No! And if his or her parents had offered you $50 to stay away, you would have spurned the money; your footsteps would have traveled a path to be with the one you loved.
That is how it should be with our footsteps on Sunday morning. God’s love for us and our love for God should move our feet to enter the doors of God’s house. “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord!'” (Ps. 122:1).
And in God’s house we are equipped to share the joys of our faith with others who don’t know Christ or His love for them. God’s grace in Christ equips us to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
As we share Christ’s love with others, God says that our feet become beautiful: “How beautiful … are the feet of the one who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!'” (Is. 52:7).
Christ’s feet walked in the perfect pathways of righteousness proclaiming the good news of salvation and the peace that comes in the forgiveness of sins (Rom. 5:1-5). He fulfilled all righteousness as His footsteps walked sinlessly here on earth. His sinless footsteps went willingly to suffering in Gethsemane and to death on Calvary’s cross. And because He died and rose again, we are assured that eternal life and salvation are ours.
So if you didn’t walk in the footsteps of Leon Trotsky or those of any other famous person today, it’s not important. And don’t worry that you’re not famous, or that your name isn’t on plaques of honor inside or outside of some building somewhere. Rather, rejoice that your feet walked in faith in the footsteps of Christ. Rejoice that God knows your name. He sees your footsteps of faith. He has written your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27). By His grace, your feet and mine will forever walk with Christ’s feet in the golden streets of heaven.