Tracking

Recently I purchased a Fitbit (Inspire 2 model) as part of my overall wellness strategy to pursue excellence in physical health in a disciplined way as I age.

It’s a fabulous bit of technology that is worn on my wrist, syncs with a Fitbit phone app, and tracks my wellbeing on a number of key dimensions in real time including:

  • Daily sleep pattern
  • Number of steps
  • Heart rate
  • Calories consumed
  • Water intake
  • Body weight

Of course, this daily Fitbit tracking exercise is ultimately of little value unless I have set fitness goals, use the Fitbit to track and monitor how I am doing, and intentionally take action to move forward with progress.

Whether we are measuring the number of steps taken each day, or the number of customers called, we all know there is a solid correlation between goal setting and tracking outcomes as a means to further success in the key dimensions of our business lives and our physical wellbeing.

The old maxim, “It’s not what we expect, but what we inspect that gets done,” has great merit for all dimensions of life.

And especially so in our spiritual lives.

The truth is that while bodily exercise and the monitored pursuit of physical well-being is vitally important to healthy living, it should not be our dominant priority.

God makes this abundantly clear when the Apostle Paul writes to his young protégé, Timothy and says the following:

“Spend your time and energy in the exercise of being spiritually fit.  Bodily exercise is all right, but spiritual exercise is much more important and is a tonic for all you do.  So, exercise yourself spiritually, and practice being a better Christian, because that will help you not only now in this life, but in the next life too.”                (The Message, 1 Timothy 4:8)

Paul goes on to tell Timothy to “…set an example in speech, in love, in faith and in purity.”  He tells him to “be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them.”

Paul’s point is clear.  Exercise yourself spiritually.  Set a goal to become godly.  (In another place he refers to this as becoming more like Christ.)  Be disciplined in your pursuit of spiritual maturity.  Over time…demonstrate spiritual growth!

This is what God expects of all of us.

We would do well to remember that God is in the heart-monitoring business.  God not only expects, he also inspects.  In 2 Chronicles 16:9 we read,

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

And the Prophet Samuel reminds us,

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

Just as the Fitbit monitors my cardio progress, God’s Holy Spirit is monitoring my interior life.  David said,

“Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me; and lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 139:23-24)

Progress in Christlikeness is anything but perfunctory.  It doesn’t just happen.  It requires goal setting, disciplined intentionality, and focused attention.

So what soul priorities are you setting?  What dimensions of your spiritual life are you tracking?  How frequently do you “ponder the pattern my life is weaving?”

Now here’s the really good news!  Whereas I’m pretty well on my own to set and achieve my Fitbit wellness goals, when it comes to growth in Christlikeness, God has promised to work alongside you and me as our spiritual coach.  Meditate for a moment on these remarkable words.

“Continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  (Philippians 2: 12-13)

Blessings for a good week of heart tracking and growth in Christlikeness!

Gordon Dirks

President, Corpath

The Call

In his compelling book, The Call, author Os Guinness reminds us that at some point every one of us confronts the question,

“How do I find and fulfill the central purpose of my life?”

Sometimes, in our more quiet, reflective moments, we all wonder, “Am I fulfilling the purpose for which I am her on earth?”  As Ralph Waldo Emerson reflected, we all yearn, “to leave the world a bit better.”

Truth is, regardless of our age, our professional status or our income levels, the human search for significance is ubiquitous,

In some way we all desire to have and to fulfill a purpose bigger than ourselves, to make a difference, to leave a legacy.  We want to know that when we come to the end, we won’t discover that the ladder of our lives we were climbing was leaning up against the wrong wall.

Or as Jesus put it, “What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?”  (Mark 8:36)

Of course, for the atheist this talk is all nonsensical.  For the God-denier there is no ultimate meaning and purpose to our materialist existence brought about by chance.  In this cold worldview, existence is essentially as purposeless as Shakespeare wrote, “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” 

Modern poet Ed Sissman said it this way,

“Men past forty,
Get up nights,
Look out at city lights
And wonder
Where they made the wrong turn
And why life is so long.”

But for the authentic Christ-follower, each day can present new vistas and exciting opportunities for us to live out the soul-satisfying call which our Creator has vested deep within us,

“Do all things for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

I like Guinness’ definition of the grand call.

“Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.”

For some of us, God’s summons may bring a spectacular life change, as it was with Moses when he responded to God’s call at the burning bush. (Exodus 3)

For some, his call may mean stepping out of our comfort zone in service to the common good, as Esther did, thwarting a genocide in response to God’s call when Mordecai challenged her with the question, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4)

Recently a good Corpath friend of mine discovered again that answering the call of our Creator is the ultimate “why” for our living.

He had served God faithfully over the years in his family, his church, and through his business endeavors.  But now his career had come to an end.  He knew a retired life of ease on the golf course would be a slap in God’s face.

So, when the suggestion came that maybe he and his spouse should devote the next chapter of their lives and their resources to serving God in a way he never had dreamed, he perked up.  Perhaps this was God’s summons to a new venture, to a continuation of divinely energized purposeful living fit for this time.

This new summons from God would mean disruption, dislocation, and denial.  It would mean pulling up stakes and moving to a Muslim-dominated (99.9%) new country.  It would mean using his gifts in study to become a teacher of English as a second language.  It would mean bearing down and learning basic Arabic.

But get this…when I talk with him, there is a smile on his face, and an infectious energy in his voice.  God’s summons will do this.

The searing question, “Why am I alive?” is an existential plague for many.  But not for the Christ-follower.  Quite the contrary.  Who knows what God has up his sleeve for each one of us today, this year, this next decade?

Because of His love, we know his call means God’s best for each of us.  To what is he calling you?  Is it the summons to have a spiritual conversation with someone?  Or a push to change careers?  Or invest more of your time and resources for his kingdom?

Whatever it may be, as my Corpath friend is discovering again…it’s an exciting life when we hear the summons, open the door, and step into a world of devotion and service to our Lord.

Blessings as you respond to his divine summons.

Gordon Dirks

President, Corpath