When I’m faced with a huge task, I’m likely just to never start. That must be true not only of me but for others as well – there is even an old saying about it:
The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
Interestingly, it seems like one thing God does is hide the size of the elephant and just asks us to start with a single bite.
I’m in the process of reading The Hobbit to my kids right now, and Tolkien’s tale illustrates this point in a wonderful way. The story opens with Bilbo Baggins very much enjoying his life as status quo. Between first and second breakfasts, the wizard Gandalf tricks Bilbo into hosting a party of dwarves. Through the first chapter, Gandalf ropes him into ‘an unexpected journey’ one step at a time without letting him know how big the party is going to be, his role in the adventure, what to pack, or when they are leaving. As you might imagine, before long Bilbo is locked into the quest of a lifetime.
This theme is found throughout scripture as well. From Abram setting off with an unknown destination to God sending Moses back into Egypt to Jesus disciples being asked ‘follow me’, God sends us forth in life without knowing the scale and scope of the adventure.
I can’t imagine this is an accident.
What elephants seem overwhelming to you right now? Three years of Graduate School? Your debt? Finding a job? Buying a house? Eighteen years of raising children? Becoming a good spouse? Losing weight? Kicking an addiction? Reading the Bible in a year? Running a marathon? Writing a book? Starting an organization?
These are great things in life and they don’t just seem overwhelming, they ARE overwhelming. But don’t let that keep you from starting on the journey.