Close Doesn’t Count

I have a Fitbit.

I have it because I also have an incredibly sedentary desk job, and I am more than capable of going multiple hours without so much as wiggling my big toe. This is, for many reasons, widely considered by the medical field to be what most professionals call, and I quote, “not that great.”

So like I said, I have a Fitbit.

My Fitbit has a handy (and frustrating) little feature called “Reminders to Move.” If an hour has almost gone by and I haven’t taken at least 250 steps, it vibrates and politely encourages me to get off my lazy butt with some cutesy message. “Feed me 154 steps!” or “Wanna stroll?” That sort of thing.

(I know what it’s really thinking. It’s really thinking, “Hey buddy, are you in a coma? Did you forget how to move? Do I need to call an ambulance?” It is, thankfully, wise enough not to ask those questions.)

Anyway, the buzzing means I have ten minutes to finish up my 250 steps for that hour. If I do (a brisk two-minute power walk is usually enough to do it), I get another buzz and a congratulatory message. “You rocked it!” it will say disingenuously, or “Easy Peasy!” Then it shows me a little graphic so I can see how many times I met that goal during that day—a little box appears for each hour I’ve completed.

If I don’t complete the hour’s steps, then, well, nothing happens. Literally nothing. No more buzzes, no more messages, and no box for the hour—just a sad little dot to mark its place.

That is, without any sort of exaggeration or hyperbole, the absolute worst.

I’m a completionist. I want to check every box and finish every objective. Looking down at my wrist and discovering I missed an hour’s step goal is intensely frustrating because a) 250 steps is really not a difficult goal and b) I’m going to have a reminder of my failure for the rest of the day. Every time I see that graphic, I’m going to see a sad little dot where a box could have been—should have been. But I can’t change it. I can’t undo it. I can’t take 500 steps the next hour and hope they average out. Once that hour is over, it’s over, and my failure to move is archived forever.

Hello, I’m Jeremy, and I have the dumbest first world problems ever.

But I noticed something interesting about this little phenomenon, and I think it has an important spiritual tie-in. See, my Fitbit gives me plenty of advance notice that I need to get moving. Ten minutes to do 250 steps? I could do a thousand steps in that time, no problem.

And that’s usually what got me. My Fitbit would buzz and I would think, “Oh, ten minutes? I’ve got plenty of time. I’ll get to that in a minute.”

And then two minutes would go by. Then three more. Five minutes left? Still more than enough. “I’ll just finish up what I’m doing here. No worries.”

Have you ever tried to walk 250 steps in 30 seconds? I have. I don’t think it’s possible.

You probably see where I’m going with this. But honestly, I stay pretty proactive with my steps now. I’ve learned to take the ten-minute warning a little more seriously. When it goes off, I usually get moving. Except…

Except sometimes I don’t have to walk 250 steps in those last ten minutes. Sometimes I’ve already moved a little in that hour, so when the warning buzzes, I only have something like 30 steps left to take. Easy Peasy, as the ol’ Fitbit would say. Good as done.

And that’s exactly why it never gets done. Because I’m so close. Because how could I possibly not take 30 steps in ten minutes?

By thinking I have it in the bag—that’s how. By assuming my earlier momentum was somehow going to carry me to the finish line without any further effort from me. By feeling like “close enough” counts for anything when the only two real outcomes are “succeed” or “fail.”

How close are you to the finish line?

That’s the tie-in.

Spiritually, we’re all running toward the finish line that God set in front of us. We’ve been pushing toward it like it’s the only thing that matters, because it is the only thing that matters.

Except sometimes, we make the mistake that I make with my Fitbit. We see how far we’ve come, we see the progress we’ve made, we see how close we are to where we need to be, and then we tell ourselves, “Oh, I’ve got time. I’ll finish that, no problem. Easy peasy.”

The hare would have beaten the tortoise if he had just kept running.

The five foolish virgins would have been at the wedding if they had kept oil in their lamps.

The wicked and lazy servant would have entered into the joy of his lord if he had made an effort with his talent.

Easy to think we have plenty of time. Easy to think we can take our foot off the gas and coast to the finish line.

Thirty more steps are only easy if we’re intentional about taking them. Close doesn’t win us the race. Close doesn’t get us where we’re going.

Close doesn’t count.

If we’re serious about finishing this race, it’s time to get to stepping.

Until next time,

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