Barefoot

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Following.

What I want most is to just follow.

I was in Santa Barbara for the first weekend of October.  I will write another post about the whole experience.  But one thing will stand out.  On Sunday morning, I was to preach to this congregation at St. Mark UMC who had really sponsored and supported and encouraged me into ministry. They were behind both Karen and I, but they had to decide on me. Would they say “yes” to my call?  They did. Resoundingly.  As I reentered that sanctuary on Sunday morning after preaching the Prayer and Healing Retreat that weekend, the sense of God’s presence was so real.  It was that same “sense of God” that Karen and I had first felt back in the fall of 1979 when we had first entered there.  That sense that God was here and at work.  That morning, Sunday October 4th, 2015, God was there again 36 years later.  The weekend had been replete of memories of those years.

But as Pastor Joe introduced me for me to preach, it became clear. God had brought me back to put me on this holy ground to continue my calling into this ministry.  I was on Holy Ground and the Spirit whispered, “Take off your shoes.”  I did, feeling a bit self conscious, but also clear:  I want to obey and follow Jesus more than anything.

So, as I stood to preach moments later, I stood barefoot.  And told them the sense of God’s presence I had felt, the reality that this day, this weekend was the beginning of something significant.  God’s call. God’s design and I wanted to do it God’s way.

Hopefully, that will stay with me when my feet don boots and hike the Camino, when my feet are on the stone floor of a cottage in Ireland, when my feet are on the carpeted floor as I sit looking perhaps across a candlelit table with Karen across from me as we celebrate our 35th anniversary in London, England.

Truly my year adventure had begun, barefoot.

About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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