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

Footprints in the sand
Footprints in the sand

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.”

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,

“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.”