The Bare Soul - August 26, 2007
Who Are You?

Over the past several years, I have gotten a lot of comments about my barefoot running. In the same regard, I have had a few folks along the way who have been rather outspoken -- who have literally tried to define who and what I am in a sentence or two. A few of these proclamations are, "You're nuts!", or "You're just doing this for attention", or "You're giving running a bad name by your craziness!" Initially, when I first started running barefoot, I learned to run sans shoes for physical reasons -- my knees were killing me and I desperately wanted to learn how to run correctly. Barefoot running, for me, forced proper technique so the physical problems I experienced became a non-issue. Someone might ask, "So after nearly 10,000 miles of running barefoot, don't you think you could return to shoes and not run goofy and hurt yourself?" Probably. However, what started as a physical need has turned into a spiritual ministry as I have continued on this running journey.

As the weeks of barefoot running turned into months, certain media folks became interested in what I was doing. So, various news spots and articles started to appear about "Barefoot Rick, the barefoot runner". To be honest, I ate this up. My ego became inflated and I genuinely enjoyed being the center of attention (well, at least in my own mind). One day about three years ago, I was talking to a fellow worker who referred to my website as "Rick's Love Me" page. I shined it off, but deep down I was hurt because I knew he was right. Barefoot running had come to be a self-centered, "look at me aren't I great?" type endeavor. I had forgot the main reason why I started doing it and had not yet discovered the true reason why I should continue.

The kudos that I did receive felt empty and hollow after a time. I was reminded at that time of my life by Proverbs 30:16 speaks of "... fire, that never says 'Enough'". (Fire, just as lust, will never say enough but will continue to consume until there is nothing left but a hollow shell.) Early in 2006, I started reassessing why I ran barefoot. Was it just for accolades from others? Or, were there other reasons? Yes, I knew that I spiritually felt closer to God when I was barefoot running (as funny as that may sound, but for me it was true). I did feel closer to God because when I ran I would usually pray and meditate. Barefoot running helped me to concentrate more on God, I believe, because I was not conscious of any knee pain or other physical aches, so it allowed for more focus. The more I ran, the more I prayed. The more I prayed, the more I knew that God wanted me to take the attention off of me and direct it back to the Lord Jesus.

So, I began making small steps in that regard. I began raising money with my barefoot marathons for community outreach. I began putting a few scriptures on my website. I started to share more openly about my faith and why I continued to run barefoot to those interested in the spiritual dimension of my barefoot running. Opportunities started to open up to share with groups about my experiences of barefoot running. In the words of John the Baptist referring to his ministry and that of the Lord Jesus', "I must decrease and He must increase". I sought more and more ways to take the spotlight off of me and to put it on the Lord.

In March 2007 an important article regarding my barefoot running came out in the Sunday KC Star Magazine. Important in that I talked about how that Lord had saved me 15 years ago from a life of alcoholism and had set me on His path. From that point on, the Lord has been giving me the burden to write, weekly, about His presence in my barefoot running and how that trickles over to all areas of my life. I know that as I stay faithful to what he has called me to do then I will be entrusted with more. It truly is a wonderful feeling to sense my "shrinkage" of self and ego and to see he Lord more and more as He reaches out through me to others.

Which leads me to this week's reader challenge: Who do people see when they look at us, individually? I am in no wise saying that I am ego-free and that I walk on water. On the contrary, I have lots of character defects as those close to me would agree. However, what are we becoming? Who are we? We will inevitably be remembered not for how many races we have won, or how many promotions we've received at work, or any number of things that are pretty inconsequential in the light of eternity. Are we decreasing and letting the one who shed his blood on Calvary's cross have His way with us? My prayer is that years from now, others will know me as a guy who ran barefoot and seized the opportunity to promote the Lord Jesus and His love and kindness. That, my friends, is the testimony we should all want to leave a world that is crying out for salvation.

Your Blessed Barefoot Servant!

Barefoot Rick

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