ramblings from the noisedoctor

August 25, 2006

elephant tasks

Filed under: Christianity, gardening — noisedoctor @ 11:00 am

please, stick with me, there is a spiritual point to all this.

Most people have heard the silly question, “How do you eat an Elephant?” The funny answer is “with barbeque sauce.” But, the more serious answer is, “bite by bite.”

I’ve been doing a major project at the house–creating a new flower bed. I’ve been digging a trench out along my driveway, sifting the soil, and then putting back actual dirt into the trench to make a flowerbed. See, the wonderful house developer company packed down 80-90% rock along the driveway. There’s almost no possible way to dig holes to think about planting flowers. But, the magnitude of the task is immense. It’s nearly 100 feet long, and it’s about 4-5 feet wide and I’ve had to dig down nearly 3 feet in places. It’s monstrous. It’s what I call an elephant task. It’s one of those things that when you look at the magnitude of it, you get this sense that it’s just hopeless, pointless, just too big–just like eating an elephant. There were days on this project where it seemed hopeless (take a look at the picture on the right, below. you’ll see it’s pretty much all crushed rock in there). One day I worked all day long and only cleared out six feet of rock. Oh, how tempting to just give up. But, I kept on with a positive attitude. I thought to myself (and told my wife): “Yes, I only got done 6 feet today, but that’s six feet I didn’t have done yesterday.”

Flowerbed1 Flowerbed2

Now, I’m betting you’ve had your share of these sorts of projects. Maybe they’re outdoor projects like clearing a huge collection of weeds/vines/bushes or painting a house. Maybe they’re indoor projects like doing your taxes, cleaning a seriously cluttered/dirty house, or clearing out years of collected “stuff.” Maybe people have even discourage you or tell you you’d never get it done. If you haven’t been there, you’re either really fortunate, really have a positive mental outlook, or you just don’t get out there and do things :).

Now, let’s turn to the spiritual point of all this. I think it’s easy enough to fall into the same near (or completely) helpless feeling on important spiritual matters as well. Things like, “my marriage is just too far gone” or “my children are just never going to learn to behave” or “I’m too addicted to (insert item here)” or “I’ll just never learn how to do (insert item here).”

I started thinking about a posting I made a while back and how our society just seemed almost too far gone and I didn’t even know how to begin to help change the world for the better. Exactly. It’s an elephant task. And how easily Satan slides in there to make me (and I’m sure other people) feel helpless in such things. So, what’s the temptation? To do absolutely nothing. I’m too small to make a difference. I can’t impact the world. Right? Nope. If I talk to 10 people today, that’s 10 chances to change the world. We have plenty of chances to take action. What it takes is to just take a bite of the elephant and then another. Sure, it doesn’t look like much. It still seems unsurmountable. But, if you keep chewing, you’ll eventually make progress.

I think back to the days where I got done six or nine feet of flower bed in an entire day. But, string a few of those days together and it looks like I made some progress. If I just packed in the mattock and shovel, I’d have gotten nowhere.

If you’re in a situation in your life that seems too big to handle, all I can say is to keep on. Please draw strength from Phillipians 4:13 “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Please drawn on the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he encouraged people “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.” Keep moving. Keep doing. Keep praying. God doesn’t want you stuck there. Let Him help you.



  1. thats inspiring! 🙂

    Comment by diana — August 25, 2006 @ 1:09 pm

  2. I appreciate the comment. It’s perspiring too! thanks for reading. God bless.

    Comment by noisedoctor — August 25, 2006 @ 1:32 pm

  3. Very, very interesting

    Comment by Tracy — October 1, 2008 @ 3:24 pm

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