As a new year dawns, it probably seems like Christmas is long past at this point, largely because you have mentally moved on. I get that, and honestly, so have I. But, there was one gift I received that will be a daily reminder of the holiday gone by — a GPS runners watch.

This isn’t my first runners watch, but the one I had been using was about as temperamental as a cat that is … well, a cat. There were times my watch would refuse to be charged so it wasn’t ready to go when it was needed. When it would charge, the face would fog up so you couldn’t read the information it gave you anyway. Then it wouldn’t always start tracking, even though you pushed the correct button, so you ended up running miles it didn’t record. That was the final straw, because if I’m going to run mile after mile, I definitely want credit for every one of them!

Seeing my frustration, my wife Carolyn bought me a new GPS watch, and I love it! It’s nothing like a cat. It tells me all the essential information like distance, time and pace, but it also will let me know my heart rate, my estimated VO2 max and much more. And if I start running too slowly, it will let me know that I need to do better! If only it had a whistle and called me names, it would be just like my high school basketball coach.

Seriously, my new watch is exactly what I need for my running, because it tells me exactly what I need to know. I don’t have to wonder if my pace is what it should be; a look at my watch will immediately give me all the essential details. Without it, I might not have an idea of how far I’ve gone, or at what pace, and I could be off significantly without even realizing it. The accurate measurement is essential.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had that same sort of accurate measurement when it comes to how we’re performing in life itself? That would be fantastic and thankfully, we do! The Bible is a sort of spiritual GPS.

The psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light on my path.” — Psalm 119:105

It guides us in the way to go and gives us some feedback on how we’re doing.

So then, my watch is not a tool to shame me, but to help me. It gives me objective feedback to let me know how I’m doing. On one recent run, I wasn’t feeling great and feared my pace was not what I would like. I was very surprised to discover with a glance at my watch that I was actually ahead of my desired pace. The opposite also has been the case where I thought I was crushing it, only to discover I was not. In both instances, I was glad for the watch because it gave me the real picture of what was happening.

There also have been times in life when the way I was feeling wasn’t an accurate reflection of how things were really going. Feelings are often influenced by factors that fluctuate and change due to all sorts of variables. What is needed is an objective standard we can look to that will inform us of how we’re doing. That’s what the encouragement of the Bible can do for us.

Just like my watch, the Bible isn’t there to shame me or make me feel like a failure, but to help me. You can never improve what you don’t understand. That’s why the psalmist calls out to God, “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” — Psalm 25:4-5

The start of a new year often inspires people to make a new commitment to get into God’s Word. That would be awesome. Maybe you’d like to read the Bible all the way through this year or maybe you’d like to try something a little less ambitious, but whatever you do, devote consistent time to the scriptures so you can get a clear picture of where you are and what you need to do to run in such a way to get the prize.