In the past few weeks I’ve noticed a spiritual bell curve that I’d love to share with you.

A bell curve is a series of points charted on a graph in the shape of a bell. You probably know that. The bell curve is often used to describe a spike in something, a gentle plateau, and then a rapid drop off.

Well, God’s been drawing my heart back into focus, especially drawing it back to beat in tandem with his own great heart. He’s been picking up on little things I do that have disproportionate effects on the rest of my life. In particular, he’s been targeting my leisure time and the stuff I do to have fun.

Let’s pick on video games, since that’s my particular bane:

There’s nothing inherently wrong with video games, right? Okay, some of them are stupid and vile because of their content, but the ones I play I generally feel free about. And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying them. In fact, you could say that I draw genuine enjoyment from the excitement, the adventure, the challenge.

That’s the spiking left arm of the bell curve. Up, up, up…. a true gift from God.

And then, the enjoyment slows, plateaus. I get frustrated with my gameplay. Or someone else’s. Or I’ve just played so long that God’s starting to say, “Uh, time to put down the controller. This is no longer my best for you. And it’s becoming too important.”

What I’m finding is that I’ve become uber aware of those plateau moments, aware of the teeter-totter I’m on and how the very next round of BattleFronts will become toxic if I continue. If I do continue (and yes, I’ve sometimes ignored the prompting), the bell curve of benefit drops sharply and by the time I do quit playing I’m left with a yucky feeling in my spirit.

Now, I’ve found this applies to food, pushups, TV, reading, pretty much everything. So be aware of the bell curve. Be aware of the plateau moments. Get off the train before the plunge! Because staying on that roller coaster after the plateau isn’t just about diminishing enjoyment.

It’s about putting something before God. Pushing onward when we know we should quit is deifying that thing we’re doing. It’s idolatry. And, I’ve found, there is exhilerating freedom in walking away just before the plateau, with my soul’s heirarchy intact.

With Jesus on the throne.