Today is the twelfth anniversary of September 11, the day the twin towers fell to brazen terrorism.

In the slack-jawed days that followed I remember hearing what seemed to be a nearsighted, arrogant claim: “The world just changed.” Sigh. Here go the ethnocentric Americans again, claiming to be the centre of everyone’s universe. 

Except a dozen years later, the words have rung true. Security measures have been transformed across the globe. Trust is harder to earn. Our view of the Islamic world is still jaded by the heinous acts of a militant few. International policy has shifted. Lingo has changed. Even in places that don’t measure things “pre-9-11” and “post 9-11,” life is different.

It all changed on a dime.

Of course, that world-changing moment was years, even decades in the making. The terror plot itself was carefully thought out and strategically executed over months and years. And the motivation for lashing out at the United States grew slowly—a cystic, festering mass that eventually found a vengeful outlet.

Malcolm Gladwell speaks of tipping points, and all astute observers of history and life in general realize, this is how life works. Slowly, imperceptibly, things shift and weaken and rise and fall—until BOOM! Something clicks, breaks through, gives way. The catalyzing forces reach critical mass, and lasting change occurs.

As a pastor, I know most Christians view personal change as painfully incremental. I think this is mostly to rationalize a lack of change. We can say, “Well true, but that’s because the change is slow. So slow you can’t see it.” Which, of course, is not the model we see in scripture. Change usually happens in a moment, but those moments are made possible by a hundred or a thousand or a million little shifts that eventually create a tipping point.

I hear the stories all the time. So do you:

“I was headed this way, doing what I always do, until one day, God showed me…”

“I found myself in a downward spiral I couldn’t escape, until God sent Bob into my life.”

“I couldn’t see what to do, no matter how hard I tried. Until that night I showed up to church and the pastor was speaking right to me.”

“I was gaining weight, and didn’t do much about it—until the day I finally saw myself in a pic on Facebook and thought, “That’s what I look like?” That was my turning point.”

Or people talking about negative tipping points:

“I never thought all our spending and shopping would lead to this. And now, here we are, and we can’t pay the rent, and we’re out on the street.”

“I never dreamed ‘innocent’ flirting would lead to a full blown affair. My wife found out. She left today. My life is over.”

The day the world changed.

What if we stopped trying to change ourselves little by little, and instead put our effort into developing a posture of clay before God, so he can mold us into the shape we need to be when his Spirit makes life click?

What if we realized, not all moments are created equal. With positive change, what if we resolved not to miss the big moments by wasting the little ones that make real and lasting change possible?