Have you ever wondered if a small change can really create a big IMPACT in your life?
I was chatting with my son after his tennis lesson the other day and he said his coach helped him tweak his serve a little bit. The change involved moving his arm about two inches closer to his ear. Not a huge correction by any standards. But even he could tell this small change had a big impact on the consistency of his serves. That got me thinking about all the small changes and tweaks in my life that add up to big impacts over time. Of course, sometimes our lives require a massive overhaul, but by in large, small improvements can alter the course of our lives.
For example, last year I made one small change to the way I track my physical exercise. I began looking at the entire year as a whole, not just one day at a time the way most coaches seem to be encouraging us these days. I created a chart with a square for each time I planned to do some sort of intentional physical activity for the entire year. Three days for each week of the year for a total of 156 squares. Then I added some bonus squares, just in case I managed to work in more workouts.
And I did.
I ended up filling in almost the entire chart, all but six squares from the summer when I had to wait for the necessary shot to keep arthritis in my knee at bay. I even gave myself a shiny, three-dimensional silver star for one particularly hard workout I let my dear friend Erica lead me through (ahem…tortured me with). With that one exception, these were not lengthy workouts. I didn’t spend hours upon hours at the gym. I didn’t hit a personal trainer. About a third of them were just walking.
Most of the work out advice I read lately talks about taking it one day at a time and giving ourselves grace when we miss a day. They say you have to eat the elephant one bite at a time. Well, for me, taking it one bite at a time made me lose sight of the fact that I was eating an entire elephant, that I was in this for the long haul, that every day mattered and added up in the end. Apparently, to create sustainable success, my brain needs to know, to see, that it’s eating an entire elephant. This was a very small change in the way I held myself accountable to move more in 2019. But this small change made a big impact on my overall health.
One Degree Makes a Difference
When I was in the Army (in the era before everybody had a GPS in their pocket) we practiced land navigation using a map and a compass. You know, the small device with a circular dial measuring 360 degrees every direction and a magnetized needle that always points toward North. If you line the arrow up to just the right degree for a direction you want to travel, you can navigate your way to a specific point on the map. You’ll miss your target if you’re off by just one degree. If you’re only going a short distance that isn’t such a big deal. But if you’re you were traveling from San Francisco to Washington D.C., you would end up missing the mark by nearly 43 miles. Small change, big impact over time and distance.
The same is true in our spiritual walk with the Lord. Jesus is the way. The only way. The gift of faith God gives us is the only way to eternal life. So we need to continuously orient and reorient ourselves in His direction. God’s will and His Word plot the azimuth for our journey through this life. My friend Beth likes to say you’re always walking toward something; it’s either God or something else.
But there is hope…
But you see, God doesn’t stand far off in the distance hoping we’ll make our own way straight to Him. No. He doesn’t leave us alone to figure it all out by ourselves. He gives us a Guide, the Holy Spirit He walks beside us to guide us every step of the way. When we walk through both terrifying circumstances and when we are compelled to celebrate, He is there. He is there when we need Him and He is there even when what we’re doing or saying makes us wish He wasn’t. And He is there whether we see or feel His presence or not.
We can choose to ignore His warnings and nudges and course corrections or even His all-out conviction. We can stubbornly refuse His help and His hope and before we know it, we’ll look up and find that without even making any major changes, we’ve strayed a long distance from the path He charted for us. The longer it takes us to notice the error of our ways, the further off we wander. And the harder it seems to be to get back on the path.
But even then, He has a plan to right our course.
No matter how far off the path we stray, we’re never too far gone for God to redirect us. God gives us the chance to make course corrections along the way. We are called to live lives of repentance, daily, or even more often if you’re like me. But when we refuse to repent or acknowledge our sin, we continue to walk a path that leads us farther and farther from God, our hearts are hardened to His way and Satan finds us thinking we are isolated, trudging through life dragging a Sampsonite with one broken wheel busting at the seams full of cares and burdens, easy prey.
I don’t know where you are today. Maybe you’re walking hand-in-hand with the Holy Spirit the way God has charted for you. Or you’ve taken a few intentional or accidental sidesteps off the path. Perhaps a life circumstance or consequence has knocked you clear off course. Or even if you’ve adamantly decided to blaze your own trail through life. And maybe you’ve collected so much baggage on your diversion it feels impossible to drag it all back.
You don’t have to.
You can call out to Jesus, repent of your sins, and receive the forgiveness God so freely offers us because of His Son’s sacrifice. He will deal with the baggage as He snatches you up in His arms and sets your feet on His path, the right path, the only path. He will do it today and tomorrow and every day after as you navigate life this side of heaven. Small change, big impact.
While we cannot inadvertently wander off from our eternal salvation secured by the blood of Christ, the small, subtle, seemingly insignificant ways we live our lives can have a huge impact on our experience this side of heaven. How we live won’t earn us eternal life, but it sure can make life this side of heaven hard.
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption… now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and truth), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 4:30, 5:8-10, 15-16
How we walk matters to God.
Nothing is too insignificant for God.
I used to think there were aspects of my life that didn’t have eternal significance. Sure, big churchy things are important to God. But does He really care if I drink soda or cuss or “encourage” my children a little too loudly or stay up too late or let my gaze linger a little longer on the well-chiseled actor on the screen or think of white come-backs that a little too deep or harbor a little unforgiveness in my heart as long as I’m cordial? I mean who does any of that really hurt? The older I get the more I’ve come to realize there is no aspect of my life God isn’t interested in or intimately acquainted with. He knows the thoughts I think before I realize what I’m thinking.
And He is concerned with the seemingly insignificant details because He knows small changes create big impact over time.
Small Change Creates Big Impact
One soda a day adds up to over 51,000 calories in just a year. Making the small change to quit that habit could be a difference of 14 pounds. Going to be just 10 minutes earlier adds up to an extra 60 hours of sleep over 12 months. Those words I speak to my children are written on their hearts. The images I see are burned into my brain. Both will haunt us. Even tiny seeds of discord can grow into trees of bitterness and they are prone to multiply like weeds. It’s easier to pull a small weed than one that has rooted itself deeply into the earth.
God cares about the health of my body because His Spirit inhabits it. He cares about the health of my mind because He wants me to think about what is good and right and true (Philippians 4:8). And He cares about my soul because it is His.
God created us in mind, body, and soul.
We cannot separate these from one another. Each of them impacts the other; there is nothing separate from my spiritual health, no part of my life God isn’t concerned with. One small change in one area can have a big impact on the others.
How do you eat an elephant?
We have to remember navigating life this side of heaven is like an elephant. Sure you have to eat it one bite at a time, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re eating an enormous beast. Our lives are lived imperfectly one day at a time but over time the effects of the choices we make from day to day impact the quality of that life in big ways.
So, ask God to show you what small changes you need to make to start living more like the masterpiece He created you to be. How is what you’re doing leading you toward or away from God and His plan for your life? Ask Him to lead and guide you in the way you should go. Then trust Him enough to walk that way.God’s will and His Word plot the azimuth for our journey through this life. #smallchange #eattheelephant #impact Click To Tweet