"Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong. The little train rumbled over the tracks." Before bedtime this past weekend, our little grandson asked me to read The Little Engine That Could! Written by Watty Piper in 1930, it's a delightful story with a positive timeless message that somehow appeals to the kid in all of us.
An engine breaks down pulling a train loaded with dolls, toys, and good food for all the boys and girls on the other side of the mountain The little toy clown flags down passing engines to ask for help. The new passenger engine insists he's too important. The strong freight engine can't be bothered to help such a little train. The old rusty engine sighs, "I must rest my weary wheels."
Finally, a perky little blue engine rolls up, and although she's never been over the mountain, she's eager to help and give it a try. As she slowly begins to tug the toy-laden train up the mountain, she chants the famous lines, "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." She finally crests the top and coasts down the other side with a smile. "I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could."
Makes you feel like maybe you, too, can conquer mountains for the benefit of others, even when you feel small and inadequate.
Piper's tale reminds me of the story of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10. When several religious leaders encounter a man who's been robbed and beaten on the roadside, they pass on by without a second look. The most unlikely candidate takes the risk and makes the effort. He doesn't think about all the reasons he can't help: race, time, inconvenience, fear, financial sacrifice, etc. His "I think I can" attitude brings hope and healing - and makes all the difference in the story.
It's all about attitude. When we think we can't, it affects our performance negatively. When we think we can, we often accomplish far more than expected. We may even find ourselves encouraging others over their mountains of difficulty and distress. I want to be like the little engine that could, don't you? Positive, kind, helpful, hardworking, willing to take a risk. A first century writer put it this way, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me . . ." (Philippians 4:13).
Yes, you can!