It all started while I was waiting for a flight home. I was sitting in the Hartford CT airport and my bottom right molar started hurting. I can't remember biting on anything hard, or chewing on anything at all. I didn't buy popcorn just so I could crush the unpopped kernels with my teeth. It just started hurting while I was siting there.
At first, the pain was just a minor thing. But it started to get worse. And worse. And worse. It got sharper and more intense the longer I sat there. I quickly dug into my suitcase and pulled out three pain relievers to help dull the growing agony.
Needing something to wash them down, I bought a bottle of cold iced tea and quickly swallowed the pills. But then the unexpected happened; my tooth started to throb. At first I thought it was the cold that was irritating my tooth. But I failed to notice that the iced tea had lemon juice in it. The acid was "dancing" on the nerves inside my tooth.
The following morning my dentist said that it looked like my tooth had lost the war, but he wasn't sure. The next day I saw a specialists who confirmed that it wasn't worth trying to save. He told me to immediately go across the street and have it pulled right away. They were waiting for me.
I walked into that office and you know what happens next. I filled out LOTS of paperwork. They then stuck an IV in my arm to put me into "lala land". When I awoke, I was told three things.
First, everything was fine.
Second, the tooth was out.
Third, when they grabbed the tooth, it shattered into about 15 pieces.
Now, I didn't accidently do just one thing that cracked my tooth. There wasn't just one bad decision that caused this to happen. It was an accumulation of things I'd done throughout my life. I'd made choices that, over time, eventually weakened the tooth until it couldn't take any more.
As I look back, its pretty much the same story when it comes to the brokenness in my life. It's not the one thing that's my problem, but the one thing followed by another. And another. And another. It's been my choices, habits, and patterns that have wrecked havoc in my life.
Yes, there are those big, one-time things that bring hurt. Being runover by a car was one that I clearly remember, but that's a story for another day. Most of the time it's things piling up over time. One handful at a time. One decision at a time. One action at a time.
This is why God wants us to follow him. Following isn't just some big, one time thing. It's a one step followed by another. By another. By another. It's a daily journey with the creator and keeper of the universe. The one who made us. The one who loves us. The one who died for us.
Yes, there's that first step. And I can't overestimate how important that first step is. But it's got to be followed by another step, or it's not walking. If all we do is take one step, then we're not following or walking. We're just moving a little bit and standing still in a different place.
My molar problem wasn't just one thing. And neither is our relationship with God. It's time to think, believe, and act like our relationship with God has many steps that make it a walk.
Are you walking or just standing still?