Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.1 Corinthians 9:24-27
One of my favorite illustrations for my daughter, who is a lot like me, when she faces something too big or too difficult to tackle is the picture of an elephant; specifically, I ask “how do you eat an elephant?” The answer?
“One bite at a time.”
We have only two devotionals left after today and can I tell you something? I’m thankful! When I wrote 45 Days of Faithfulness, I covered seven different areas of our lives and how they intersected with the church over those 45 days. But thankfulness is one topic; it’s been a challenge to compile 45 devotionals on one subject. Have you ever tackled a project and then, part way in, sort of regretted taking it on? For me, if I can just get started and get some momentum, it gets easier for awhile until I invariably hit a bump in the road. But it can be paralyzing looking at a monumental task to tackle and, just like that elephant, it can look too much for one person.
That’s where thankfulness can be so useful. When I started writing this series on thankfulness, I did it for the members of the church I pastor as a gift for how thankful I was (and am) for the opportunity to shepherd them. You see, I didn’t really have a desire to write on this topic for this long for just random people. There are other things I’d like to do. But my thankfulness for my church family motivated me to start chewing on this elephant. And at different times during the course of these 45 days, I’ve been tired, depressed, and unmotivated. But I repeatedly took my own advice, counted my blessings, and sat back down at the computer, because I was thankful for the opportunity to do it.
If you lack motivation or are intimidated by some opportunity in front of you, count your blessings; list in writing what you have to be thankful for and what more you’d be thankful for if you tackled that elephant in your life. If you are doing this or that thing for God’s glory, then he is more than likely to send people along the journey who share their thankfulness for you and your undertaking. It happened to me this very morning that I am writing this; an older couple in our church came up to me after service and said, “thank you so much for your devotionals. We’ve been listening to them.” It was such a boost to hear that encouragement and it gave me a burst of energy to sprint towards the finish line. And as I take the third to last bite of this 45 day meal, I’m smiling as I write this because my thankfulness for my church led to their thankfulness for me to which generated my smile.
Because I’m thankful.
Questions to ponder
What is a project or undertaking that you’ve been avoiding or dreading because of its size or scope? Why is it intimidating?
What are the first two bites you could take if you were to start to “eat that elephant?”
Consider all the reasons you have to be thankful for that opportunity; now think about how thankful you could be when it was completed. Can you set a time and date to take that first bite today?