The other day I was at the gym and got on the exercise bike. So I set up the timer and the all the other bike settings and started peddling away with ear buds in my ears. It wasn’t until I finished that I looked at the calories burned: 300. That’s all? That’s like two cans of soda. But I never noticed the calories the whole time. I probably would have gotten discouraged if I had been checking the calories.
But I did watch something a lot. The heart rate. On the side of the machine they tell you to keep your heart rate at 60-90% of its maximum. And then when you put your hands on the sensors on the handles, the machine shows you what your heart rate is. The goal is to keep near that good level for the duration.
See, it’s not the calories burned that’s important for exercising. You could set the machine at the highest level and peddle your legs off, but if your heart rate isn’t up to that good level, it doesn’t do much for you. And the opposite of course – you could be peddling at little level one, but if your heart rate is pumping, then you are on the way.
The calories burned is a nice result. But the real health of the exercise is in the heart rate.
When Jesus sent out His disciples to preach and drive out demons and heal the sick, they got some pretty good results. The scripture says that they came back so excited to tell Him all about the amazing things they had done, and that the Lord even told them He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven because of their mission. Then He said something to them: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Lk 10:18-20)
It’s not about the results. It’s about what’s in the heart.
It’s all about the heart rate.
In following Christ and sharing in His mission, we are going to have successes and failures along the way, sometimes good results and sometimes empty results. But that’s not what’s really important. What’s really important is keeping our heart rate always in that healthy exercise range.
Remember, it’s all about the heart rate.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:1-10,13)