Message – Walking in Your Own Shoes – Part I (18/11/07)

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Tyler Perry

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
O Word of God Incarnate Medley

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Piano/Violin Duet – Min & Yoon Kwon – “Sonatensatz in C Minor” “Amazing Grace”

The Message

Message by: Robert A. Schuller

So with that I’ve got to tell you what my wife called me today. Can you believe that? It wasn’t bad, don’t worry, she’s nice. She said I think you’re going to be known as the shoe guy. That’s what she said. I said well that’s nothing new, you have to realize my name is Schu-ller. And not only that, you must realize that when I was in 5th grade, some kid made a joke and called me shoe head and that stuck with me all the way through high school. I was known as shoe head. That was my nick name. Can you believe it? I hated it. Absolutely hated it. But God has a very good sense of humor, you know? He loves to kind of manipulate things and twist things around, just to kind of.. just enough to give us a great big surprise when we least expect it, it lands up being the greatest blessings in the world.

Well when I look at all of the different pieces that are coming together in this ministry and where we’ve been coming from in the last couple of years, I get very excited. It was only two weeks ago that my mother suggested, Robert why don’t you collect shoes. Do something tangible to fit in with your message of walking in your own shoes. And as a result of that, you have the truck out there. How many people brought a pair of shoes today? How many people remembered? Would you stand up? If you brought a pair of shoes today, would you please stand up? I want to thank you. Thank you for bringing shoes today. Thank you. I appreciate it very, very much.

Now I know some people forgot and that’s okay, but do you know what? The truck will be here next week, so you can bring them next week and we’re just going to continue to collect shoes for the next few weeks because there are over one point five million homeless kids in the United States alone. And we have partnered with Samaritan’s Purse. That’s Franklin Graham’s organization. Billy Graham’s son, and we have partnered with them to help us distribute these shoes to the children who need them and we’re going to put shoes on children’s feet. Isn’t that wonderful? It really is.

Well you know I dedicated this book to a gentleman named Anthony. It’s an unlikely person to dedicate a book to, but Anthony was a farmer. He was born at the end of the 18th century and or 19th century rather, and he was a man who wanted to be a minister in the Reformed Church in America, our denomination, but because he didn’t have the means to be able to get the scholastics necessary to become a minister, he never was able to fulfill the dreams he had for his own personal life. Instead, he landed up following in his father’s footsteps, and being a farmer, taking care of the farm. And he took care of his family very well. And he prayed and prayed and prayed that if he couldn’t be a minister, maybe he could have a son who would be a minister because a hundred years ago, you had to be a male to be a minister in the Reformed Church in America, our denomination, actually used to be called the Dutch Reformed Church in America. That has since gone away a long time ago and we have many, many women who are ordained in the ministry and encourage that and support that wholeheartedly. But a hundred years ago, that wasn’t the case.

And so he prayed he’d have a son who could go into the ministry and God gave him a son. His name was Henry. And Henry was tall and thin and good looking and was strong and looked like he could have been a minister. Only thing is, he wanted nothing to do with speaking, he loved working with his hands, he loved tilling the soil, he loved the farm and his shoes were to walk in his father’s footsteps and be a farmer. And he was.

Well he had three more children, all of whom were girls. Disqualified from ministry in their time. And his wife grew out of her child bearing years. That was Anthony. And I dedicated my book to him because he walked in his own shoes. And all of us need to walk in our own shoes and what does it mean to walk in our own shoes? Well, if I look at my past and look at the way that God has guided and led me, I see that I truly am walking in my own shoes. As a child, I used to.. we would call it, I called it playing grown up because as a boy I didn’t want to play dress up. And all of my sisters, they played dress up, I played grown up. And so what that meant is, we went and raided our parent’s closets and we put on nerd clothes. Not really. What we did is we just put on my dad’s jacket and I’d put on my dad’s shoes. They were this big and my feet were this big. How many can remember doing that as a child and putting on your parent’s shoes and your parent’s clothes and the jacket would hang down to my ankles and the shoes, there was four inches left in the back of those shoes and walk around and you’d play grown up, or as the girls would call it dress up. I remember doing that.

I remember as a young man always knowing that I wanted to go into the ministry and as such I did all kinds of things to practice for the ministry. One of my things my father did when the church was young is he would stand at the back of the church before we moved into the Cathedral, he would do this and he would shake hands with everybody as they left the church. Well, what I did as a small boy is I would go and I would crawl underneath his robe. Now what you don’t know is that the robes have little slits in them right around here so you can stick your hands through the robe and into your pants pocket if you need to to pull something out, you know? So what I would do is I’d crawl underneath that robe and then I’d stick my hand out of that slot. And I’d shake hands with everybody as they left the church. I have absolutely no idea what it looks like. To this day, all I ever saw was this robe across my face and nose, and after awhile it got pretty hot and I was good for about five, ten minutes and then I was out of there. I was gone.

But you know then I went into seminary and I spent four years in seminary and I spent four years in college and at that time then I came out of seminary and people started using the old expression, maybe you’ve heard it before. They would say you have some big shoes to fill. That’s what they’d say to me. I heard that so many times, I became so sick of that statement, I’m telling you, God has the best sense of humor in the whole world! How many people have thought that, I have some big shoes to fill? Its okay, you can raise your hand. I know if.. I’ve heard it said enough where there has to be a hundred times as many people or thinking it and won’t ever tell me that. And the facts are I do have some big shoes to fill. But the bigger facts are that my father wears a ten and a half and I wear a twelve. That’s the truth. I’m not making this up. It is what it is.

And God has called us to walk in our own shoes, meaning if I wanted to walk in my father’s shoes, I couldn’t. Not only are they too small, but they’re not what God has designed me to be. So what we need to do is to realize that God has called every single one of us to walk in our own shoes. So what does that mean for this ministry? Well, if I’m going to walk in my own shoes, I have to walk in my own shoes. And my father, when he started this ministry, he started it on the roof top of a snack bar in a drive in theater. I mean some people.. a lot of people don’t even know what a drive in theater is anymore. There aren’t a whole lot of those things left. But they used to be a theater where people would drive in, you stick this speaker in the window of the car and you watch the movie that’s projected up on a big screen out there. And they always had a snack bar and that’s where he would stand and deliver his messages. Well it was not the most sacred place in the world. So all he did is stick a cross on top of the snack bar rooftop in order to create some kind of sanctity, he put on his scholarly robe so they wouldn’t think he was some kind of a bum who rolled off of the street and crawled up there and started preaching. It’s not part of the tradition of our denomination to wear robes. And as a result, he gave it some dignity. And so he started wearing those robes.

Well here we are in the Crystal Cathedral today. And I believe that part of walking in my own shoes is to say that I think its time for us to be able to reach more people of my generation and my son’s generations, and the generations to come who don’t understand what the whole robe thing is all about. And so I think its very important for me to wear something that’s going to be able to break down any barriers that are going to keep people from hearing the message because that’s what we’re all about is sharing the message of Jesus Christ in the most warm and welcoming way we possibly can. And so that’s why I’m not wearing a robe. It’s part of wearing my own shoes. That’s why we brought the message closer to the audience. We used to have our messages up there at the pulpit. But we were too far away. I couldn’t see into the eyes of people, I couldn’t get close enough. And I noticed that every time we had the Glory set in here, we were close and it felt good and it felt right and I said we’ve got to move it down here. And we did. It’s part of wearing our own shoes. Being part of the reality today where people are. Reaching a new generation, reaching the next generations. Communicating in a positive, beautiful, loving way, the warmth of God’s love for everybody. And that’s what it’s all about.

So that’s where we are. But what’s important for us to realize is that God calls us all to walk in our own shoes. As such, He gives us all gifts and talents with which to work, to walk and to experience God’s direction for our lives. For Anthony, it was to be farmer. For Henry, it was to be a farmer. And to each of us, it is the unique gifts that God has given to us to walk and to be the people He’s called us to be.

Since I’ve written this book, I have seen many different things in my life come together. I went into seminary in 1976. And that same year I did my first funeral, and I’ve been doing funerals ever since then. In case you haven’t done the math, that’s 31 years of funerals and I’ve done several funerals, lots and lots of funerals. And last week I had a funeral for a friend of mine, I met him through Donna. And Donna lost her father when she was 13 and so she found other gentleman who she kind of latched on to who became a father figure for her, and one of these individuals was a guy by the name of Otho Behr and he lived in Hawaii and we would go and visit them once in awhile and see him and that’s how I met and became familiar with Otho.

Well Otho passed away and I think he was 91 years old; he had a wonderful life and successful life. And Otho passed away and they had his funeral and so we were over at a cemetery not far from here and they had a tent set up in front of his gravesite and they had a little bench set up there with a few items that is not unusual, a picture and that kind of a thing. But this is the first time in my life that I’ve ever gone and watched them set it up where they set these things on there: the urn, a picture and of all things a pair of shoes. His shoes. They put Otho’s shoes on the bench. Birkenstocks to be exact because that’s all he ever wore was an old worn out pair of Birkenstocks, in fact the clasps were all corroded from the salt water where he lived. And I looked at those shoes and I said you know those are the shoes that Otho wore, and here we are, launching a campaign to raise shoes for kids, launching a campaign to encourage people to walk in their own shoes and there’s Otho’s shoes. What an affirmation to me of the reality of how God is truly affirming everything that He’s doing. I don’t’ believe it was a coincidence. I believe it was what I call a God incident. When God stepped in and said these things are going to happen.

Well today, we’re continuing to help people walk and find their own shoes. I believe its imperative for us to encourage people to find this message today, more than ever before, because the fact is that society and the world wants us to walk in their shoes instead of our own shoes. The world has this seductive way of presenting pleasure and happiness associated with sex, drugs and money. All of which totally lead to death and destruction. But only when we define and understand and realize God’s plan for our lives, and discover that God has created every single one of us with a purpose and a reason do we realize the direction that God has for us.

Let me give you my text for walking in your own shoes. It is this: “God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him, Who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these things, He has given us His very great and precious promises so that through them, you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” When we understand God’s promises and cling to these promises and live by the promises that God has given to us, we live a life that is pure and pleasing to God. We walk in our own shoes.

Anthony the gentleman, the farmer I dedicated my book to? Jenny was beyond child bearing years, but God didn’t know that. And she became pregnant. And she had a little boy. And they named him Robert Harold. And Anthony and Jenny Schuller gave birth and today you know him as Robert Harold Schuller.

Anthony walked in his own shoes. Henry walked in his own shoes. Robert Harold walked in his own shoes. I promise to walk in the shoes that God has given to me in my own shoes. And I pray that you will discover the shoes that God has for you and make a commitment and in unwavering determination, to walk steadfastly in the shoes that God has given to you, Amen.

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