The Bare Soul - October 21, 2007
Reflections on Four Years of Barefoot Running

It seems like only yesterday.

Not only did my knees creak with pain when I knelt, but often I would toss and turn on my bed trying to sleep with excruciating pain at various times of the night. This was four years ago. To be honest, I didn't know whether I would still be running four years after that fateful time of my life where my knees begged me to stop. Only in retrospect, can I be grateful and humbled by the journey of the past four years of barefoot running.

When I speak of "journey", barefoot running has taken me on a course through life that I did not expect. Starting in October 2003, my reasons were mainly physical -- to solve my knee problems and to learn to run prudently. Once that aspect seemed to be solved and corrected, my journey took on more "soulishness" or , if you like, ego-driven toward the goal of satisfying a lust for greater barefoot running exploits (and of course the notice of the media!). And then, during the past couple of years, finally to humble myself before God and man, testifying to the power of God and how He saved me from a desperate life as a sinner. To whom much is given, much is required. I am more than willing and content to give back to others through my testimony the wonderful things He has done in my life.

I find it interesting that we all come to various crossroads in our lives and choices that determine our path are laid before us. I had one of those crossroads earlier this year. A couple of Kansas City Star reporters contacted me in January and stated they would like to do a Kansas City Star Magazine feature article on me. Of course, I was jazzed knowing this article would be several pages long with lots of pictures and such. My ego was all a flutter over this prospect. I got to know the Jacobson's (a husband and wife reporting team) over the next couple of months through emails, in person interviews, phone calls, and even running events like the Psycho Wyco Winter Trail Run and the St. Patrick's Day 4 Miler. Well, it's probably more accurate to say that they got to know ME better. The more I talked to them, the more of my past life came out -- a life that before Christ was heavily immersed in alcohol, drugs, and a self-serving life. These, of course, were all symptoms of a life of sin. The Lord enabled me to share these details with the Jacobsons and to give them the "nod" to include these sordid aspects about my past life in their article. Some cautioned me this might not be the best thing to do. After all, they said, your employer will know that you're a recovering alcoholic (although I have been sober for 15 years as of March '07). No matter, I thought. I believe this is something that the Lord Jesus wants me to reveal to hundreds of thousands of readers, in the hope that my life of desperation before Christ would touch others.

The article was published in the Star Magazine, as some of you may remember, at the end of March. Instead of feeling the elation and "look at me aren't I great?" feelings that I had when other articles published, I felt a humility, a resignation, and a peace that I had done something that would touch other lives through my obedience to the Lord's will. When I had decided to share about my past life of drugs and alcohol, the Lord whispered to my heart, "Be faithful in little things and I will entrust greater things to you."

A couple of weeks later, the Lord began giving me themes or subjects to write about. I started jotting them down and I sent them out to a few folks who seemed to like them. From there, I sent out my first edition of The Bare Soul on April 22 after the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech. Since that date, I have continued to publish a weekly column that I pray has been thought provoking, hopeful, and redemptive to all those who have read. In addition, the Lord has opened several doors to be able to speak to various clubs, churches, and schools regarding my barefoot running and most importantly my faith.

In past years on my barefoot running anniversary, I have talked about various things such as how my barefoot running form is improving or how many miles I am running barefoot or how many barefoot marathons and so on. Those things were important for me to talk about to get to the place I am at today. Those things were catalysts to bring me to a place of humility in the little bit of notoriety I have received and to use that to talk about my Lord Jesus. Sure, I still get a kick out running barefoot every day (I will probably top the 10,000 barefoot mile mark by the end of the year) and I still enjoy running several barefoot marathons every year. However, the goal is not all about me as it was in previous years. Today, I get to have fun and enjoy my barefoot running as long as I give back to God the attention I garner and put the focus back on him. Will I continue to run barefoot? I believe so, as long as the Lord gives me the ability to His glory. Without Him in the midst of this integral part of life, it would be empty and hollow. However, as He is with me in this endeavor and as He allows me to share his love and grace, I am full of His joy. I am SO looking forward to where this barefoot journey will lead me as long as He is by my side.

Your Humble Barefoot Servant!

Barefoot Rick

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