Friday, 10 December 2010

On Shoes and Biblical Thinking

You and I probably can't imagine life without shoes from both a comfort and a "this is who I am/want to be" self-expression point of view. Clearly some shoes are more function oriented and others more ornamental, (although quite why anyone would want to adorn themselves with this pair - see right, I have no idea!)

But an article I read recently in a triathlon magazine that Sean passed on to me got me thinking. It was talking about how running barefoot is the best way to develop good running technique. The argument went something like this...

Because the modern running shoe has aimed to make running as much of an open-to-all, comfortable and supportive experience as possible, it has allowed us to get away with cultivating sloppy running techniques where we land on our heels rather than the balls of our feet. Try mimicking shoe-running when barefoot and you won't go very far for very long.  Ignoring the fact that the skin on our pampered soles would rip after about 50m, the shuddering impact of each pounding heel-first footstep starts to shake not only your joins but your brain too.

Feet are highly developed organs, with many feedback loops (aka nerve endings - that's what makes them ticklish!) When you run barefoot, you naturally run on the balls of your feet, (which is the way we're meant to run). It's the only way you can sustain running for any serious length of time.

When it comes to the running shoe, what was meant to benefit us has, for most of the population like me, who never get any running coaching, actually ended up hindering us, as poor running technique inevitably leads to all kinds of minor niggles and even major injuries, not to mention slower PBs. Yet, most of the time we never think to go back to basics.  We are so wedded to our possessions, and living our life through them that we never stop to consider that maybe the thing meant to help us, is the very thing that is deflecting us from seeing what we really need.

This isn't a let's all blame the shoe industry post by the way.  They have done what we asked, we wanted comfortable fashion statements for our feet that protect us from the elements. They gave them to us. Moreover, even the hardiest barefoot runner will don shoes in winter!! The point is not that shoes are bad, but that, great as they are, they cannot teach us how to run, yet we think if we have them, we have what we need.

And yes this is a parable, for there are so many things in life that are meant to be there for our benefit, but ironically, through our sloppy misuse, end up deflecting us from the very things they were meant to help us obtain. I just want to point out one.

Who teaches you what the Bible says? Your church leaders? Pastors from other churches who you connect with over the internet? Your favourite Christian celebrity [insert name here]? Books written by a bunch of dead guys? Books written a bunch not dead yet guys? All of these are like shoes. Misuse of these good gifts from God can be highly damaging.

Let me put it another way, do you go first to the "expert", or to the author? In understanding the Bible, do you reach first for the mouse/bookshelf or for the Heavens in prayer? Do you seek understanding for the mind, or revelation from the Spirit to your spirit? Do you seek to understand the matter better, or do you seek to know and love God better?

Jesus said that those who came to him for water would have streams flowing within them. Through getting in step with his words, his people would know his Spirit coursing through them, igniting their whole being and animating their souls, enabling them to test and approve what God's will is, and walk joyfully in him.

Through this fellowship with the Spirit, we enjoy spirit to spirit intimacy and strengthening with all in God's family and fruitful labour in the world.

It is God who gives wisdom, personally. All we need do is ask. :-)


Sean Green said...

Helpful and provocative - a classic Richard blog posting!

Richard Walker said...

I write it to myself first. The mouse and bookshelf are too often too close.