Big Shoes

I write this post in honour of Jake Hiemstra and I dedicate it to his family.

Some of the top “buzzwords” of the day are “carbon footprint” – jargon for how much green house gas (more jargon), such as carbon dioxide, are emitted by a specified entity, be it an individual or a group. (And as you probably know – some people are more full of gas than others!)

You can go online and find various sites that will help you to calculate your own personal carbon footprint, in other words, how much  your way of living affects the environment and people. I Googled “carbon footprint” and a list of 15,400,000 sites is available to read on the subject. Wow! That’s a lot of information on the environmental  affects of gas! (For information on the effects of spiritual “gasbags” read my post “Junkyard Dogs”).

I am a bit of a nature nut and I love the outdoors so I do think that it is important to be a good steward of our natural resources. I want my descendants to be healthy and be able to enjoy nature as I have done. I followed my mother’s lead when it came to teaching my children to respect and take care of our environment. I hope that they will teach their children to do the same.

However, as important as leaving a good “environmental” legacy may be, I believe that our “spiritual footprint” is far more important to the world than our carbon footprint. And that is where Jake Hiemstra comes in to this discussion.

Although I know Jake’s wife, I only knew Jake to say hello, and although he was a friendly fellow, I didn’t know anything else about him. This changed when I attended his funeral about a week ago. And although I hadn’t really known him, I left the funeral grieving because I had not gotten the chance to know such a wonderful man of God.

“Big Jake”, as he was affectionately known, stood well over six feet tall and I am sure that he had large feet to go with his height. (A tall fellow with very long feet once told me that “tall buildings need good supports”). But aside from his large physical presence, Big Jake had a huge spiritual presence which he manifested in very real, very loving ways.

The positive effect he had on people and in their lives, was extremely evident by the number of people who attended his Celebration of Life (and it truly was a celebration of his life). The sanctuary and balcony were filled to capacity and extra chairs had to be set up in the atrium. It was literally standing room only! In fact, the pastor commented that there were more people in attendance for Jake’s service than there had been for a well-known contemporary Christian music artist who performed there recently. Imagine, a simple man drew a bigger crowd than a celebrity! That’s saying something!

Big Jake was a simple man in many ways. He was a husband, father and grandfather. He provided a loving, steady and steadfast  balance to his energetic and ever busy-as-a-bee wife. His five children shared long (they had so much good to say) and extremely loving accounts of Jake’s role in their lives.  He was a farmer and the quintessential “Jack of all trades” who was more than willing to give of his time and talents to anybody who was in need.

But along with being lovingly generous with his time and abilities, Jake was also lovingly generous with sharing his faith with everyone. His love of God and his Godly love were very evident in all that he did. Jake truly was a man who not only “talked the talk” he also “walked the walk”.

I think that a huge portion of Jake’s big heart was given over to ministering to youth. In a time when so many harmful and evil things are present in this world to distract and lure our youth to destruction, it is so very important to have loving, Godly role models. I know that Jake had a huge effect on the lives of many youth and that he will be sorely missed.

In the days leading up to Jake’s passing, his funeral and even afterwards, I never heard one single negative remark about him. In fact, people, from many walks of life,  only had many, many good things to say about him and about the way he lived out his faith in love.

I know that he has left a huge hole in the lives of his loved ones and his church family. He is “one tough act to follow” and he has definitely left some “pretty big shoes to fill”.

We have been told that we need to reduce our carbon footprint. My prayer is that we all work hard to increase and enlarge our “spiritual footprint” with Godly love. May we all leave “big shoes” of love behind us.

1Jn 3:18   My little children, do not let our love be in word and in tongue, but let it be in act and in good faith. (BBE)


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