My body got a shock last week, and I acquired a new humility along with a few more aches and pains. But the ultimate result will be strength, endurance and steady progress. Thanks to new technology, I can’t fool myself any more into thinking that I’m working as hard as I can.
CurvesSmart is a new computerized tracking system at the facility where I work out. It gives continous instant feedback while you’re on the machines, telling you whether your range of motion is correct, and how much energy you’re putting out. Since I’d already been working out here three times a week for nine months, I really didn’t think I’d feel much difference when I signed up for the new program. I was seriously mistaken. My heart rate jumped, my anti-perspirant disappointed me, and I went home feeling chastened instead of smug. Wow. Now that was a workout.
After a week and a half, each day looking at the online piecharts and bar graphs which show me my last ten workouts, I’m seeing progress. My muscles are working harder, more consistently. I’m burning more calories. I expect to see a difference in the inches and pounds I lose, too. (I do have measurable goals.) But building my strength and stamina is my primary goal. If i didn’t have this electronic coach–or is it more like a conscience?–with me every time I work out, I’d still be lying to myself, convinced that I was excercising at my full capacity.
It didn’t take more than a few days before it occurred to me: I wish there were something comparable for my spiritual life. But maybe there is, and I just haven’t wanted to admit it. I likened the success tracker at Curves to an electronic conscience…but I have a built-in conscience in the Holy Spirit, and all I have to do is listen to it.
How often lately have I heard or read an exhortation to immerse myself in the Word? Not a new thought–a really old one. But how often lately have I put it into practice? I’ve been avoiding a reading chart, because I know that it’s too easy for me to fall into a complacent “check list” mentality when I’m just reading through the Book on a schedule. And choosing a passage to read at random doesn’t appeal to me, so…I’ve been rationalizing my reasons for reading spiritual books rather than THE Book.
I don’t think the Holy Spirit is going to give me a pie chart print-out of my spiritual progress (“you’ve increased your meditation intensity by 14% this week, but prayer is down 3% from yesterday…”). To quantify would be to miss the point, anyway. Spiritual disciplines are only a means to the end of Christlikeness, and I’m not going to get those test results until I see Him face-to-face. Meanwhile, I keep my eyes on Him as my goal, and let Him do the measuring. If I pay attention to my “personal coach” I won’t keep fooling myself. Humility is a very good thing.