Eating an Elephant in the Snow

For historical reference: Tuesday, March 14, 2017, a huge snowstorm hit central Pennsylvania and the northeastern U.S. Many areas got a foot or more of snow, by far the biggest storm of the winter season.

And the popular exclamation from most people that day wasn’t “oh, how beautiful!” Instead it was “oh, my aching back!”

At 8 AM there it was, already six inches or more of snow in the driveway and plenty more to come. Without a plow handy it was time for the solo shoveling brigade, morning edition. What’s easier, shoveling six inches of snow or a foot?

Gazing across the driveway was a trying experience. OMG as the kids like to text it. “There’s no way to do this” was the thought. “Just go back inside, maybe the snow will all just blow away later.” Right. “Or it will all melt away later.” Sure, next WEEK!

Then that old riddle came to mind, one you’ve probably heard before...

How do you eat an elephant?

When you look at a large pachyderm there’s no way you could envision eating such a behemoth. You’d give up immediately, just too big. But then you remember the answer to the riddle...

One bite at a time.

With that memory the first column of snow is pushed from the driveway. And the second, and the third...

The riddle is TRUE, it works, but the body isn’t so accommodating. Where are those teens of old who go around shoveling sidewalks and driveways for a few bucks of pocket change? Nowhere to be found. C’mon, someone hasn’t invented some robot drone that can do this??

After nearly an hour you’re sweating, the aches start to get louder. The brain tires – I could be having a hot chocolate right now, it thinks.

And it doesn’t help when the state snowplow barrels down the road past your driveway...and the snow you just cleared magically reappears on your boots. You note a reminder to dump something in THAT guy’s driveway someday.

But the end is in sight – the elephant is nearly consumed. It hurts at the end, your back throbs. But you make that last dig of your shovel, toss the snow to the side, and admire your handy work. Now you can actually get your car out of the garage if somehow needed today. Mission accomplished, a great feeling.

At least till later this afternoon when another six inches or more has arrived and you’ll need to do it all over again. Oh well, elephant for dinner sounds nice...

When a large task looms it’s easy to be overwhelmed. School report, work project, family emergency, tons of snow in the driveway. “I just can’t do this” and you trudge off, or you grumble your way through the effort making it far less than fun.

We forget that feeling of accomplishment when the task is completed, when the elephant is gone. But it happens every time – “yes, we DID IT!”

God never promised us an easy life. Some government politicians like to make those promises, always good for some extra votes. But it never pans out, ever notice that?

During this Lenten season imagine Jesus’s situation. He knew what was coming. And it didn’t happen suddenly. Instead it was a three year effort, step by step, situation by situation, parable by parable.

A looming backache is one thing – suffering death on the cross to atone for our sins is quite another. Jesus’ elephant was more like a blue whale. But he “ate” that blue whale, right to the end.

And the feeling of accomplishment celebrated on Easter Sunday – priceless. He paid the price, we got the reward. All end up smiling, forgiven and redeemed.

We at Grace Church have had that elephant feeling in recent months – how are we ever going to go solo? What should we be doing? Where will more money come from to pay the basic bills? Can we really DO this?

We can, and we will. People are counting on us, people we haven’t even met yet. People in Spring Mills, in Penns Valley. With our new Grace website launching soon, maybe even people halfway across the world.

Please join us for Sunday worship at 10:45. The thought that “many hands make light work” is appropriate here. It’s a lot easier to eat the elephant when a lot of people have their utensils at the ready.

Sunday School begins at 9:30, give or take. Last Sunday we had our largest group yet, kids AND adults. Come join our fellowship, all are welcome and we have plenty of seats. Beverages are always served, the kids have fun activities, and the adults are having some challenging discussions on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

And during the next big snowstorm it would be great to have Jesus alongside with a shovel, digging right there with us. We could talk theology, the cosmos, even the weather. Imagine THAT discussion...

Of course, maybe Jesus is already alongside you there on the driveway. Think about it - He’s ALWAYS alongside you...