by Shirley Crowder

One morning I noticed an ingrown toenail causing a little irritation on my big toe. I was on my feet a good part of that day, and before long the irritation turned to pain. By that evening my toe was throbbing and felt like I had a needle pushing into my toe. When I finally got home late that night, I pulled off my boots and socks to inspect the toe. It was red, swollen, and, well, I probably shouldn’t go into more specific details. The pain radiated upward from my toe, seemingly all the way up to the ends of my hair!

© Can Stock Photo / kgtoh

It was time to pull out the pedicure instruments and begin the arduous task of performing an extraction of the ingrown nail before a serious infection set in. Surprisingly, it was not as arduous a task as I had anticipated. In fact, it only took a couple of seconds to slide a cuticle pusher around the edges of the nail to remove the minuscule sliver that had been causing my toe to hurt all day long. I felt immediate relief. Of course, I had to make sure to clean and protect it, and by the next morning the redness, swelling, and most of the pain were gone.

I began thinking of the similarities between that rogue, minuscule sliver of nail and sin in my life. Had I not taken action to remove that sliver of nail, my toe would have become badly infected and the pain would have been unbearable. In a similar way, if I take no action to confess, repent of, and seek forgiveness for my sin, the more pain it will cause and the chasm in my fellowship with God will grow even greater. Eventually the unconfessed sin builds, thus marring my relationship with God and poisoning every aspect of my life. I hurt as a result, and my attitudes and actions often hurt others.

When the cuticle pusher released that sliver of nail I experienced instant relief from the pain it had been causing me throughout the day and evening. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, we confess and repent, and immediately that sin is removed, as far as the east is from the west. We receive God’s forgiveness, our relationship with Him is restored, and the weight of that sin is lifted forever.

© Can Stock Photo / GDArts

Just like I had to clear my toe of the sliver and then keep it clean and protected, once we have confessed our sin and received God’s forgiveness we must be obedient to God’s Word and be transformed by the renewal of [our] minds (Romans 12:2b) so that healing of our souls is encouraged.

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NOTE: A  devotional version is found in Hope for New Beginnings by Dr. Howard Eyrich and Shirley Crowder.

Shirley Crowder was born under a mango tree in Nigeria, West Africa, where her parents served as missionaries. Okay! She was actually born in a mission guest house under the shade of a mango tree, but that doesn’t sound as exciting, does it?

Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is manifested in and through a myriad of ministry opportunities: biblical counseling, teaching Bible studies, writing, and music.

She is a biblical counselor and is commissioned by and serves on the national Advisory Team for The Addiction Connection. Several of her articles have appeared in “Paper Pulpit” in the Faith section of The Gadsden Times, and in Seek magazine. She also writes for Life Bible Study, Woman’s Missionary Union, and She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to six books. She has a four-book devotional series, co-written with her Nigeria MK cousin Harriet E. Michael, that will be released over the next two years.

Shirley has spiritual children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren serving the Lord in various ministry and secular positions throughout the world.

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