Transformational Transitions Part 4: Start Small

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By Pastor Dan Christian

Have you ever thought about the fact that any great athlete started out as a floppy baby who had to learn to hold their head up, and then as an unsteady toddler who had to learn to stand without toppling over?

 The training that LeBron James went through to gain a vertical jump of 44 inches did not start on the basketball court, nor in the workout gym, but on the living room floor of his home. It did not begin with jumping at all, but with the challenge of simply balancing on his own two feet and taking his first wobbly steps.

The training that Kerri Walsh Jennings went through to become the most decorated beach volleyball Olympian of all-time started long before she touched the sand of the California beaches. Her training began with the rather uncoordinated (and sometimes comical) batting of squeaky baby toys hanging above her bouncy seat.

The training that Michael Phelps went through to become an Olympic swimmer with 23 gold medals did not start in the swimming pool but in his crib at home. It did not begin with major workouts, but with the unimpressive feat of rolling over and sitting up.

Whether a famous athlete or a top scholar or a successful executive, the principle remains the same: high-level achievement begins with small, unimpressive steps.

The same is true of the women and men of great faith whom we look up to as examples of godliness—their maturity in Christ started with simple, basic steps of studying God’s Word, learning to pray, practicing a memory verse, and so on. Training is an essential part of growing toward maturity in Christ, and training always starts small.

When change happens, and we struggle to come to terms with all that is new or different, we might know that the “right Christian answer” is to trust in God, but trust is not something that can be immediately “produced.” Rather, trust is developed in small increments over a long period of time. So if we are to trust God in a season of transition, we must train our hearts to trust, one small step at a time.

What might those small steps of trust look like?

Perhaps it’s writing a truth on a sticky note and posting it on your bathroom mirror where you’ll see it each morning. This past Sunday we were reminded through the story of Lazarus that God loves us and He has the power to raise the dead—you could rehearse that truth every day, especially as it relates to our transition.

Perhaps it’s telling God honestly what you’re feeling or what you’re struggling with in this time of change. Bringing that complaint or concern to God in prayer, rather than letting despair or bitterness take hold, is an expression of trust in Him.

Perhaps it’s having the courage to ask a friend or a pastor for prayer, whether on a Sunday morning at the end of the worship service, or in your Branch or fellowship group.

Perhaps it’s attempting to memorize a verse or passage of Scripture that gives comfort or perspective in the upheaval of change, such as Colossians 1:11-12 or Philippians 4:4-7. Write it out on a 3x5 card and read it two times each morning.

These are small steps. They’re not earth-shattering. But until we take the initial small steps, we will not be able to progress further in our trust of God.

If you have been a part of this church for many years now, you know that the level of trust you have in Pastor Cory has developed incrementally over all these years, as you have listened to him and followed his leadership. In the same way, your trust in God for all that is coming in this new season will grow incrementally as you take these small steps moment by moment and day by day.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 says:

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Training for godliness starts with small exercises, just like training for an athlete begins with holding their head up as a baby or swinging their hands at the toys over the crib. Yet these seemingly insignificant steps build habits of trust and relationship with God that are crucial in navigating the uncomfortable unknowns of this season of transition.

So start small—and train hard.