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Book cover

Sunday was one of those incredible, long, rich, “walking on sacred turf” kind of days.  The whole thing, the orchestration of events, the place of God in them, the opportunities, the ways I could look back and see how God led, and at the end of it, God put a title on it.

The title came when I arrived home at 7:30 pm and saw that my neighbors, Rita and Michael, were sitting observing the day from their garage.  I’ve wanted to touch base on the fact that I am leaving soon, so walked over.  In our conversation which touched on many subjects, I brought up my upcoming sabbatical.  As I described what I was going to be doing, beginning with walking the Camino, Rita gasped, got up and went into the house.

She returned with the above book “Follow that Arrow,” saying:  “Just today I want to the book reading and signing for my cousin at Powell’s, as her book is a bestseller.  She wrote it on walking the Camino.  Before she did this, I had never heard of it, and here you are the SAME DAY saying that you are going!”

“Follow that Arrow” was the book title, and I thought how much that day had been a day of “following.”

I’d begun it at 6 am leaving to walk to church for first service and then to Christ UMC for our joint second service after the completion of Camp Iwannabe, which completed on Saturday.  I walked so that I could get a ride with the Strobel family after worship to the airport, since they were departing on vacation, to wait in departures for Karen to arrive, then I would take her car and bring it and Zack the dog (who travels with her) home.

The first arrow to follow came during first service as Michele brought up how Faye was doing and we followed Jesus to pray for this dear sister for all of us, who’s been a mainstay in this time of worship for years, and a best friend to Michele.  Faye had been struggling with multiple cancers for months and Michele said, “I don’t know how she is going to make it” with tears.  So, we prayed.  It was one of those powerful, “Jesus is in this” prayers, and we just soaked in it for a time.

Following became a theme as I walked to Christ UMC and got to follow multiple times as opportunities arose to share, to lead in prayer and then to preach with Brett. We are a great dialogue-message team, made for “following” one another. The whole service was one of those brilliant moments in worship.  Jesus was leading.

After church another “arrow” came in a text, then a phone call from Michele, who had taken communion over to Faye after first service.  She had arrived at the house at the same time as Faye’s husband, and Michele was the one to enter first, and made the discovery that Faye had died. Sometime, perhaps as we experienced that intense time of prayer for her, our prayers became her entrance into a glory that we have yet to experience.  The shock for Michele and Rein, Faye’s husband, was immense.  I got the call as I was riding with the Strobel family. I had no way to “get there” until I met Karen at the airport.  At that point Michele had made contact with the granddaughter and was going to wait there for her to arrive.

During the next hours I practiced being present to those I was traveling with, praying for Michele and her roommate Elizabeth there to support her, and Faye’s family, while being unable to do anything else except stick with the plan for the day. I got to see the Strobel’s off, bought lunch, and waited for Karen.  She arrived just before 2, and we were able to share a brief, significant story from her day as we traded places, she headed for departure, and I drove to Faye’s.

As I arrived, the granddaughter and grandson were there, waiting for me to come for the granddaughter wanted me to pray with Faye’s body and them before the body was taken away.  It was there that Jesus showed me he’d been leading all through the day.  The timing of this arrival was just what they needed. Had I been there earlier, it would not have been as significant for them.  So, we went in, and prayed with body in which Faye had lived this life, and prayed her into God’s merciful hands and us into the service of God as tears flowed.

 

In another appointment that followed this, I watched God’s grace unfold in that life, then I then ended up in Rita and Michael’s garage sharing about the Camino, the Way, and about the above book, about following, and realized how this day, every day is about following God through this life.  That takes pretty straightforward trust.  Follow.

 

 

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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One Response to Follow

  1. David Luce says:

    Your new “Camino Walk” email was certainly an adventure. The Lord’s hand was on it in every way, not least in the timing of events.

    I’m sure you will feel very encouraged, and there’ll be more to follow.

    Lots of love,

    Pops

    Like

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