My Spiritual Focus
I am a work in progress.
I now understand my life to be much like the old joke about the three preachers out in a boat. They were fishing close to the banks, but not close enough to jump safely to shore. One pastor, announcing that he needed to use the bathroom, steps out of the boat and proceeds to walk on the water reaching shore safe and dry. After a few minutes he returns the same way. Later the second preacher announced that she (Yes, “SHE.” this is the 21st century) also needed to use the bathroom. She steps out of the boat and walks across the water to shore and later returns safe and dry both ways. Now the third preacher was shocked each time the others were able to walk on the water, but after a while…he really needed to go to the bathroom. Thinking to himself, “If they can do it, so can I,” he steps out of the boat and immediately sinks to the bottom of the river. The other two preachers look at each other and say…”Guess we forgot to tell him where the rocks to walk on were.”
My whole life has been a blessing. I have a great wife and three children of whom I am very proud. I have had life struggles like everyone, but generally speaking I have been blessed. I always believed in what I knew. And I knew where the rocks on which to walk were. No matter the situation, I was content personally and spiritually to simply go through the right motions and appear successful. There is a place for that, but what happens when there are no more rocks to walk across?
Sixteen years ago I was asked by someone whom I deeply respect to “Plant” a new United Methodist Congregation in a place of which I had never heard. In one episcopal act God lead me so far out of my comfort zone that I lost sight of the shore, and was stripped of all the emotional and spiritual rocks that I had used for years to walk across the water. For the first time in my life I really found my self in a place where I had no choice but to practice what I had been preaching for so many years. So I trusted in only what I had, God and my family.
Without my pretentious ego and naive presuppositions to get in the way God brought about personal and spiritual change (a lot of if it) in my life. I see things so differently than I did before. I am a better husband, a better father, a better minister and a more effective follower of Christ. I’m no longer content to walk across the water on the top of rocks. I want to be like Peter and actually walk ON THE WATER toward Christ.
I have a passion for people who are hurting, for people who feel abandoned by the church, for those that live in the grey area’s of life and faith. There are a lot of them, and I believe that most of them have good reason to feel abandoned by the church and christians in general. I have a new burning in my heart to make Jesus real and accessible for the forgotten, the lonely and the abandoned. I believe that relationship is more important than being right or doing things my way. I believe that the only way for me to know Christ deeper is to show Christ clearer. My calling is to do ministry in the grey area’s where life happens, to do ministry right where God is working but most often not seen.
I have a new appreciation for what Charles Wesley was asking when he pinned “And Are We Yet Alive” 263 years ago. For the first time in my adult life I can say, “YES!”
I’ve been writing meditations and blogs for over twenty-five years. In some ways I started this blog site to symbolically represent my spiritual growth and change. On any account, these reflections are offered to help me and any who might benefit think about how God works and uses us.
I am a United Methodist minister, having served many different types of congregations over the last 29+ years of ministry. I am an ordained Elder in the South Carolina Conference. I have served as a Clergy Delegate to two General Conferences, Registrar for the Conference and Board of Ordained Ministry, Chairperson for the Conference Committee on Nominations and as a member of many other Conference Boards and District Committees. For a brief time I chaired the Foster Care Review Board for 6th Judicial Circuit here in South Carolina. Currently I am the Coordinator of Clergy Services, Assistant Conference Secretary and Dean of the Conference Licensing School for Pastoral Ministry.
My background is in (of all things) science, and I have previously worked as an adolescent counselor and a middle school guidance counselor. I have been married to Melissa, a woman with a golden heart, for nearly 30 years. We have a daughter, Alanna (28) and two sons, Trey (26) and Gill (20). Our daughter teaches 3rd grade. Our son Trey, married Laura five years ago and has given us two grandsons, Levi and Ezekiel. Trey is an active duty US Air Force Staff Sergeant. Gill is a new Private First Class US Marine.
My parents are Athon and Edith Arant, who have been together nearly 58 years. My father is a United Methodist minister, as is my younger brother, Michael Arant. My younger sister, Amanda Harmon, is a professor at Charleston Southern University, and married to a Southern Baptist minister (Billy Harmon) and church planter as well.
The Name of this Site
I rarely wear socks. I’ll wear them on Easter, to your funeral and maybe to your wedding if you’re getting married on a beach to keep the sand out of my shoes. I grew up in Aynor, South Carolina working on a tobacco farm and developing a love being barefoot and sock-less whenever possible.
This is more than a reminder of my roots. Everyone needs to learn to stay spiritually sockless, keeping as little between life’s road and our feet as possible. We should never get so caught up in our own spiritual socks that we become insulated from the needs of people around us. Being spiritually sockless to me means keeping myself on the edge of my comfort zone looking for places to join God in ministry, the grey dusty areas that our spiritual socks often keep us from seeing. Sockless spirituality is where your faith meets the road.
I know it’s corny and a little simplistic, but it works for me.