Then you cry out to God,
"You've given me too much!"
"I can't handle this!"
"It's too big to swallow!"
Suddenly, you begin to realize that God doesn't expect you to eat the whole thing at once. He wants you to take a very small bite and digest it thoroughly before you take the next bite. Eventually, you know that it's going to be a very lengthy process but it is, indeed, possible to eat the elephant.
That's how I felt about my mom's death. I was in a raging storm and I screamed, "GOD...I DON'T THINK I CAN GET THROUGH THIS!!"
But as the waves are starting to calm, I'm starting to strain my ears, and when I really listen, I begin to hear God's still, small voice speak to me. I Kings 19:11-12-
I can't wrap my brain around the "big picture" yet because it's daunting. What I can do is think about one bite...not even two or three bites...just one. With each bite, God is right there beside me, and He's quietly revealing himself to me through his Word. With each bite, He is sustaining me, and comforting me, and healing me. With each bite, I'm learning to trust him more.
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
And because I "know that for those who love God all things work together for good"(Romans 8:28), I have to believe that eating the elephant is going to strengthen me. It's going to somehow help conform me more to the image of God.
Sometimes when I serve my kids a big helping of veggies, or a tall glass of milk, they whine that I gave them too much. They'd rather skip the veggies and go straight to dessert. In order to coax them into finishing their meal I firmly, but gently, remind them that eating their vegetables will help them grow super- hero muscles. I tell my girls that drinking their milk will give them shiny princess hair. I want to have the grown-up version of these attributes after I eat my elephant. I want to be stronger, polished, and more Christ-like on the other side of this. Would my flesh rather skip the hard stuff, and go straight to the dessert? Absolutely. But my spirit knows that it's the tough stuff that makes me grow. When God serves me up a big plate of something yucky, then I have to believe that he's allowing it for my own good. If not, then it's all for nothing.
God has given me every tool I need to eat the elephant. I just have to pick up the fork and knife and use them. I will share more about this in part II.