When I run, I use an app on my phone that tracks my distance, time and pace. In preparation for an upcoming race, I started using the coaching feature. I set it for the pace I want to run and every minute it lets me know how I’m doing. “9:52. You’re ahead of your pace. Slow down. Great job!” Or, “12:15. You’re behind your goal pace. Speed up. Awesome workout!”
Now the programmers could have left the ‘awesome workout’ part off when I’m behind pace. But I think they left it for a purpose. I tend to get focused on results, on my ability or failure to meet one goal or another. The ‘awesome workout’ reminder points me to something broader. Being out alone in the morning quiet is a good thing. Not only that, being able to run is a gift and a blessing. I shouldn’t lose those simple pleasures because the number on a pace meter wasn’t what I thought it should be.
I get that same kind of narrow view in my Christian walk as well. I set standards for how I think I should be progressing. (Notice, I set them, not God.) Then I have to start monitoring. Am I on pace with the right number of quiet times? Did I read enough chapters? Did I meet my goal for prayer? Or study? Or growth? Am I closer to God than I was last week? Am I on pace or behind?
Now I believe a periodic spiritual inventory can be a good thing, but not an end in itself. For me, I find that in the quest to meet some goal or achieve a metric, I completely miss the joy, the gift, the blessing that comes with a relationship with Christ. It’s a relationship guided by His timing and not my schedule, on His grace and not my performance.