I have a Fitbit strapped to my left wrist. For me, the little black device – with a screen that measures a mere ¾ inches wide and ¼ inch deep – provides just another set of statistics to track every hour and every day. I think it’s supposed to assist in my health, especially regarding my heart and weight. So far, the gadget has been more a source of annoyance and frustration than anything else.
Donna talks about how 10,000 steps a day leads to a much healthier heart. I’m lucky if I rack up 5,000 steps. I could find that simply another reason, among so many, to feel like a daily failure. Instead, I went through several days without wearing the Fitbit, as a coping mechanism; the rest of the time, I’ve sort of ignored its presence the best I can.
Last night, though, as I lay in bed unable to sleep until almost 3 o’clock in the blessed morning yet again, I pondered the possibility of creating a different kind of Fitbit.
What if we had a “spiritual fitbit?” That device wouldn’t measure our physical steps but instead the direction of our steps, how many of the steps are in the right direction. It would reveal how many steps we took in Christ’s footsteps. The thought reminds me of a wonderful old book I read a few years ago: “In His Steps,” by Charles Sheldon. It’s a novel written in the late 19th century that still resonates today in part because it asks some ever-relevant questions:
“What is it to be a follower of Jesus? What does it mean to imitate Him? What does it mean to walk in His steps?”
Said Henry Maxwell, the main character in “In His Steps”
“Our motto will be, ‘What would Jesus do?’ Our aim will be to act just as He would if He was in our places, regardless of immediate results. In other words, we propose to follow Jesus’ steps as closely and as literally as we believe He taught His disciples to do.”
There are millions of people who call themselves Christians, thus implying they follow Jesus. If challenged to look into a spiritual mirror, if a spiritual fitbit truly was available, would they learn something to the contrary?
“Whoever claims to abide in him ought to live [just] as he lived,” the apostle John wrote in his first letter. Do you and I lives as Jesus lived? Do we walk in His steps? Do we imitate Him? Those can be tricky questions.
“We must know Jesus,” Maxwell said, “before we can imitate Him.”
Therefore, getting to know Jesus is our first calling. Knowing and loving Jesus must come before trying to live a so-called Christian life. And the way to get to know Jesus is to stick close to Him, listen to Him, spend time in His company. Walk where He walks – that’s true spiritual fitness.
I’m reminded of the classic poem “Footprints In The Sand,” in which a person sees only one set of footprints on a beach and asks Jesus where He was in those times.
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”
I would suggest there should always be just one set of footprints in the sand. Sometimes, yes, Jesus will be carrying each of us. The rest of the time, however, we should be following right behind Jesus, constantly put our left foot in His left footprint and right foot in His right footprint.
To be holy is to respond to that call, with all the joy and beauty, all the sacrifices and pain that can entail.
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9)
Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:38)
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. (1 Peter 2:21)
Yesterday, my Fitbit revealed I had taken 5,342 steps when I glanced at it about 11:45 at night. I guess that was a good day for me; it’s 10 o’clock at night right now, and I have only 4,617 steps. I probably should make a concerted effort to rack up better numbers, considering heart disease is an Eisenbath family heirloom. I will start keeping track, then reflect on how well I fared every night as I turn out the light.
Of course, that shouldn’t be my most important reflection of the night. When I look back at the day, when I perform my Examen, I will check my “spiritual fitbit” to see how many holy steps I took during the day. I will be grateful for those times when Jesus carried me during the journey, but I will thank God even more profoundly for those times when I followed Him obediently on my own.
I will check my shoes for sand. If it’s there, I will know that I’m working toward holiness. That would be the real value of a spiritual fitbit, one strapped to my soul.
Let’s work toward the health of a saint, our true calling.