What did acquitted MP’s ‘footprints’ remark mean?

During his statement to waiting reporters after his acquittal, Nigel Evans MP said: “In my darkest and loneliest times there were only two... or one... sets of footprints in the sand, and as those of you of faith will know, they weren’t mine.”

Footprints in the sand
Footprints in the sand

This is a reference to a well-known poem, “Footprints in the Sand”, first attributed to Mary Stevenson in 1936. It reads as follows:

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,


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“You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”