How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It would take awhile so if you had killed the elephant illegally (you can’t eat an elephant while it’s alive, after all) I’d suggest finding a different way to get rid of it. Maybe you could bury it? My dad’s philosophy is, “Shoot, shovel, and shut up!” How do you bury an elephant? One shovelful at a time although that would take awhile too. It’d be best to avoid dealing with elephants in the first place but occasionally God does call us to do something almost impossible, like eating an elephant. Of course I’m speaking metaphorically here. Don’t go shooting elephants! They probably taste like chicken anyway and I assume actual chickens are way cheaper to eat.
When God does call you to eat an elephant, He will help you eat the entire carcass; even the chewy gross bits such as the floppy ears, big toenails, and the hairy tail. However (and write this down) God is more concerned about your character than your accomplishments. (Related: Is Modesty Only A Woman’s Problem?) In other words, God is more concerned about what you learn along the way than He is about when you get there, wherever “there” may be. Maybe God wants you to learn how to butcher, build fires, cook, clean dishes, cure meat, and navigate the legal system (you’ll probably get arrested for killing the elephant) and he’s not so concerned about the amount of your elephant consumption. Chances are you’ll be using the skills you learned while eating the elephant long after the elephant is eaten. We’re trying to achieve things but He’s trying to change us. Usually the process of changing us requires that we don’t achieve things, at least not right away.
When we started raising support so I could begin my apprenticeship at MMS Aviation, I thought God would help me eat the elephant in front of me by giving me the miraculous ability to dislocate my jaw and swallow the elephant whole, kind of like a snake eats a mouse. I sat on the couch and waited for God to perform one big miracle. I prayed, “God help us get fully funded.”
Instead He led our family on a zigzagging path filled with many small miracles (and a lot of dead ends). We started praying, “God help us bump into someone at church who’s interested in what we’re doing.” God prompted someone to start asking us questions about what we’re doing. We asked for a meeting so we could explain it better. We went out for coffee with them a week later. We outlined our vision to help get the Gospel to remote regions of the earth. We explained how airplanes are necessary to do that. We went through our folder and explained our plan to get into mission aviation. We asked them to join our team. We sent a handwritten note of appreciation when the support came in. We send them newsletters to keep them updated. A small miracle was accomplished and our support quota went up 1%. Only 99 more meetings to go!
We prayed again, “Lord, help us bump into someone at the coffee shop.”
Notice how our prayer requests become much smaller and easier to digest? We began taking bites of the elephant instead of trying to swallow it all at once. Granted, some parts we didn’t like eating.
“Lord, please help us eat this chewy tail full of cartilage. It doesn’t taste good and we don’t want to eat it. Nevertheless, not our will but Yours be done.” And He helped us eat it.
Each one of our supporters is a miracle built on top of another miracle. God was the architect of the building and planned how the pieces fit but He didn’t just give us a building, he expected us to learn some masonry skills.
It’s a miracle that David, a lowly shepherd, the youngest of the family, would rise to be one of the most famous kings over Israel, God’s chosen nation. Yet it didn’t happen right away. Soon after Samuel anointed David king over Israel, Saul (the acting king) became jealous and started trying to kill him. I can’t imagine David didn’t question God’s calling on his life. In fact, we know he did. David’s struggle with trusting God is on display throughout the Psalms. God built David’s character before God gave him a kingdom.
It’s a miracle that a captured foreigner would rise to become pharaoh over Egypt but first Joseph was sold into slavery and later thrown into jail on false accusations. God built Joseph’s character before God gave him a kingdom.
I hear so many people getting frustrated because God isn’t using them to accomplish things. Maybe God isn’t interested in using them until He’s changed them.
Don’t view learning how to butcher, build a fire, cook, clean dishes, cure meat, and navigate the legal system as obstacles to your goal of eating an elephant. Learning to do those things may be half the reason that God asked you to eat the elephant in the first place.
Blessings from Ohio,
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