A couple members of my pastoral team enjoy barefoot running. Throughout the winter they wear special shoes that are designed to replicate the barefoot experience. When summer comes, they like to run through the woods barefooted. One team member has even claimed that he wants to build up his
endurance for a very specific reason… so that he can run through the woods after deer. That’s right, deer. He’s been told that a deer will wear down much more quickly than a well conditioned man while
running. Once the deer wears out, he can capture it.
I have one word to describe those ambitions. “Nuts.” Who does that? What is he going to do when he “captures” a deer? Slap it on the back and say, “Good game?” Name it and take it home for the kids?
Ultimately, it’s the experience of barefoot running that both my teammates claim to love. They go on and on about feeling the earth under their feet. They say that they feel more connected to the ground and to the world. They mention how fluid everything feels between them and nature.
Here’s my barefooted experience: it hurts. I have a gravel driveway. Many of those stones will ultimately find their way into my yard by some unknown force. When I walk through my grass, with my sensitive,
under-callused feet, I fear with every step that my foot will find one of those stones.
I have friends from college who are missionaries in Egypt right now. Yeah, that Egypt. The one known for protests, terrorism, the targeting of Christian Copts… that place. They are there because they believe that God wants them there. When they write letters to their supporters and describe their experiences a part of me is jealous. Another part of me is fearful.
They live their spiritual lives like barefoot runners. They feel the experience around them. They’re
unprotected. They’re so close to the front lines of good and evil that it solidifies them in their faith. Good and evil are not merely concepts to ponder in a college philosophy class, but instead are manifested in very real and often times dangerous ways.
I believe that God calls everyone to “take their shoes off,” in some small part, and experience Him in the process. It may not be missionary work, but it may be a call to serve in a food pantry, or to teach, or to simply attend church. For some it could be the call to put aside their jobs for long enough to experience their families again.
Make no mistake, fear will be a factor, one that we must overcome to draw closer to God and experience Him.
May we overcome and experience the real, raw, and passionate nature of God.