Earlier this week I was waiting for something to start, or end, or whatever… I had my shoes off and noticed how my toenails look a bit odd. This is a result of the many years I spent when I was younger jamming my feet into soccer shoes and beating my feet up on a soccer pitch, or scrunching my feet into rock-climbing shoes (which are typically worn a couple of sizes too small), or showering off in public showers where athlete’s foot tends to spread like glitter given to a 2 year old. They just aren’t the prettiest toenails in the world.
I noticed the middle toenail was doing something funky and I thought it was going to create an ingrown toenail situation, so I preceded to do a little trim… with my fingernails as the only tools I had available to me. I ended up ripping off a third of my middle toenail on my right foot. It split from the end of the nail down to the quick and so I just pulled and off it came. It didn’t hurt that much while I was pulling, but once the sensitive skin under the nail was exposed to the air, and I put my shoe back on and had to walk on it… let’s just say that it stung a whole lot.
It is starting to heal a bit now and doesn’t hurt quite so much all the time, so I have to chance to look back and think about what I learned from my stupidity. Two big ideas come to mind: (1) Use a nail clipper to remove unwanted nail length, and (2) Ripping off you toenail is a little like sin.
Often when we walk contrary to how God wants us to walk (loving Him and the people around us is a pretty good summation there), most of the time it doesn’t hurt too much. I mean, it might sting a little bit while you hurt another person, or, contrarily, it might even feel good while you make yourself feel better at the expense of thumbing your nose at God or at other people… but in the end, when we walk against the way that God asks us to walk, there is always a cost that is incredibly hard to bear in the long run. We may experience the pain immediately, or maybe a few years down the road, or only in the world to come… but somehow our actions always have consequences.
And this is where I love the fact that my toenail reminded me of my walk with God. Because all of my misdeeds, all of my sins, all of my brokenness has resulted in a whole pile of consequences with my name on them, but,
21 God made him who had no sin[, Jesus,] to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus became my sin and took my consequences for me. Then God gifted to me a right standing before Him. I may see some of the consequences for my sins this side of eternity, but in the end all of my sins have been paid for when Jesus took on death and destroyed the power of sin and death so that I might be called a child of God.
Sometimes making a huge mistake, like ripping off part of your toenail, can help you end up thanking God for everything that He has done for you!