Nürnberg where my grandmother grew up. Saturday reflection: “The Holy Spirit leaves no footprints in the sand.” – Abraham Kuyper

Nürnberg, Germany, January 2020

Walking these streets and over this bridge with Turner where Helen, my dad’s mom, would have walked countless times brings an interesting connection of place and also of time and history to me. Most all these homes and buildings would have been there when she left Germany in 1933 in her late 20’s.

What was Germany like in the early 20th century? How did it’s influence from Rome from the 3rd century impact its present? What did it feel like for my grandmother to leave here? What made her say when passing through Ellis Island in the peak years of the Great Depression, “We got off the boat in New York and found a nation incredibly prosperous compared to what we just left.”

I have my own memories there now: walking with Turner on a misty, colder, day in January; dropping off our packs at our hotel by the train station and opera house; finding a local German pub tucked right on the edge of this river as it forks; walking in and smelling the open fire on which they cooked, warming from a cold day, sitting quietly in a tiny booth with two other locals in the adjacent room; ordering stew and bratwurst and local beers with my son – a good moment in this gracious gift of life.

Now I am connected to these questions even more deeply, because now they are personal. It is the story of Redemption that God wrote me into which includes God’s dealings with my family in Nürnberg, this place. I am still learning and thinking.

The Holy Spirit executes on God’s grand narrative of the coming of His Kingdom through all Redemptive history. I am encouraged by R.C. Sproul’s book on the Holy Spirit. Here are some great quotes from the introduction:

“The Holy Spirit leaves no footprints in the sand. Abraham Kuyper

These words are from Abraham Kuyper’s classic work on the Holy Spirit. Jesus did leave footprints in the sand. He was God incarnate, God with a human nature. When His disciples walked with Him, they could hear His voice, touch His hands, and watch the sand spilling over His feet as He trod the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

But the Holy Spirit is like the wind. Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes” (John 3:8). We cannot capture the wind in a bottle. It is elusive and mysterious but nonetheless real. We see the effects of the wind—trees bending and swaying in the breeze, flags rustling. We see the devastation of the fierce hurricane. We see the ocean become violent in a gale. We are refreshed by gentle zephyrs on a summer day. We know the wind is there.

So it is with the Holy Spirit. He is intangible and invisible. But His work is more powerful than the most ferocious wind. The Spirit brings order out of chaos and beauty out of ugliness. He can transform a sin-blistered man into a paragon of virtue. The Spirit changes people. The Author of life is also the Transformer of life.”

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