The Bare Soul - July 20, 2008

I Corinthians 13:4a - Love is patient, ...

One can not be impatient when learning to run barefoot. It takes months, even years to perfect in order to run long distances injury-free. I can sometimes detect the feeling of impatience when others write or talk to me when learning. I can tell they are trying to pick my brain to see if there is not an "easier" way to accomplish what I have done. They usually want to know if it gets easier, if they will quit blistering, if they will be able to one day run as fast as they could with shoes. These are all relative questions for each individual to find out for themselves. People progress through various stages of learning to run barefoot in very different ways. Most, I have found, do not have the diligence and patience to reach the "holy grail" of barefoot running which I regard as marathon distance or beyond. There is just too much to give up to a previous shod runner such as their acquired speed and ease of running in trainers. They usually don't have the patience to re-learn how to run at a slower more deliberate pace. Many start this journey, but few finish.

When someone wants to become a long distance barefoot runner, It is difficult to explain to them what is required. One really does not know until starting and progressing for some time on the journey. Here in the Midwest, barefoot running is complicated by the changing seasons. It takes a robust soul to persevere through hot, humid summers and wet, cold winters. I always tell the aspiring barefooter, it will get easier and better if you just hang in there and have patience. In other words (as the scripture implies at the beginning of this devotional) one must understand that without a love and a passion for what they are doing they will never have the patience to continue. It is not something to be worked up -- it is either there or it's not. A lack of patience in this regard equates to a lack of love.

I John 4:8 states that God is love. This is the defining nature of God, it is not simply a characteristic. By God's very nature, His very being cannot do anything that is not love-based. One of those love-based characteristics is patience. It is not a feeling or a decision, but it is a characteristic of the very nature of God. One could just as easily state that "patience is love" just as "love is patient" for they are synonymous outflows of the divine nature. It is quite easy to say "Well, I love that person and they are the desire of my affection, but sometimes they wear on my patience". For instance, if a parent states that they love their children and yet are continually losing patience with them and becoming unduly angry, then I would question their love. Of course, no one will be 100% patient of the time with those we love, yet if we truly love the object of our affection, to the most part we will be generous with our patience and long-suffering toward that individual.

True patience is not a learned characteristic of God, but it is one of His "fruits" (Galatians 5:22-23). It is the natural outflow of a life that is connected to His love and is remonstrated by the spontaneous appearance of His attributes in situations that would baffle the world. Speaking of parents once again, I have seen mothers and fathers that have truly been gifted with the ability to patiently nurture their children with no other goal than to selflessly give themselves in order that their child will be all that they can be. Conversely, I have seen parents that have been so caught up in themselves that they have lost all vision of what God desires to rear their offspring. Consequentially, these parents display their detachment by obtuse impatience and growing anger toward their children as the little ones seem to further inconvenience the parent's selfish lives.

No matter if it is barefoot running, parenting, or any number of "passions" in our lives, the Lord desires to perfect His patience through His love in our lives. The marvelous thing about understanding whether we are truly in love with our personal ambitions is how much patience we have that is characterized in our daily dealings toward our pursuits. Only He can give us the passion to begin and the patience to finish.

Lord, As we give to You our life's pursuits, please take them and perfect your love and ultimately your patience in all our endeavors. Make us shining examples to the world how one can be passionate to pursue those things which you desire and the patience to perfect their completion. In Jesus Christ' precious name. Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,


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