As I was recovering from my recent surgery, I was reminded of the value of small victories. Sometimes you have to take so-called baby steps before you can make greater strides of progress.
In those first few days after my procedure, some of my small steps I rejoiced in included being able to walk without assistance, being able to get up from chairs without much pain, and walking out to the mailbox to get my morning newspaper. Those actions didn’t mean I was all better and back to normal, but they were steps in the right direction leading toward that goal.
It reminds me of a song from one of the animated Christmas programs that comes on TV each year. There’s a song in the show whose tune always gets caught in my head, but I also like the words and the simple message it conveys.
Kris Kringle is telling the evil Winter Warlock that he can change from being bad to good. The song encourages him to do it one step at a time.
It reminded me of my literal post-surgical shaky steps as it says, “Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking across the floor; put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.”
Sometimes we prefer to take giant leaps rather than small steps. With some of the needed changes in our lives, the Lord works that way. We can be forgiven of our sins and free from its guilt in an instant. We can have our hearts cleansed and receive the gift of eternal life in a moment of repentance and faith.
But there are other changes which take time. If we expect to reach them immediately, we may be frustrated and disappointed. Or if we try to achieve them in one giant leap, we will often fall flat on our faces.
For example, the Bible tells us that it’s God’s goal for us “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). However, that transformation isn’t accomplished in one big step on one day. It usually requires a lot of little steps over the course of a lifetime.
As we approach the beginning of a new year, maybe you’re thinking about some needed changes in your life – especially the kind of changes God may want you to make.
In some cases it may involve taking a big stride forward. But in other cases it may simply mean being willing to take a small step in the right direction. You may need to take a few baby steps before you can really start walking.
So instead of making some grandiose resolution for the coming year, maybe you would be wiser to think about what the first small step would be to get you headed the right way, and focus more on it.
What would be the first small step to get you going toward God and what He wants you to be?
For one person, it might be to stop doing something you know is wrong. For another, it might mean getting back to church or back to times of fellowship with God through prayer and His Word. For another, it might mean reaching out to someone with forgiveness or love.
Whatever your small step is, trust God to help you take it. Then look for the next step after that.
Keep going until you reach the goal. With God’s help, simply putting one foot in front of the other will eventually get you there.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.