The Second Harvest Food Bank truck lumbered up the drive and came to a halt. Out popped the driver who disappeared into the trailer and emerged with a box on a forklift that was over five feet hight and a good four – five feet wide.
Lots of Sweet Potatoes.
Thankfully, we had a sizable number of volunteers and like bees we began buzzing around the box and bagging those potatoes in groups of ten in plastic grocery bags.
A makeshift assembly line evolved and, though it took a while, a pile of hundreds of plastic grocery bags, each containing ten sweet potatoes grew from something that looked incremental to a rather imposing mound of spuds.
As I looked over landscape, I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world we were going to be able to distribute every one of those bags in the allotted time. I began envisioning the conversation that I would be compelled to have with my bride: “Well, babe, I know it looks like a lot, but I figured we could keep them in our garage for a while. After all, they’ll keep and it wouldn’t make sense to throw them away…”
I was rehearsing my spiel right about the time my daughter looked up from her bagging efforts and said something to the effect of how she never wanted to see another sweet potato in her life.
Thing was, while it wasn’t immediately perceivable, that five foot high box of potatoes began to decrease in volume. It took some time, but after a while, we had every last sweet potato bagged and ready to hand out. As people came through the line to receive the foodstuffs that were being given away, we loaded them up with as many sweet potatoes that they would accept. Half the line was finished and we were still up to our ears in sweet potatoes. We started handing out as many as fifty potatoes per customer – we were the “Crazy Carl Used Car Giveaway Event!” Every potato must go!
Two and half hours later, the dust has settled. Boxes are being broken down, cars are leaving the parking lot and not one sweet potato remains. They’ve all found a home in a needy household and I don’t have to worry about “selling” the presence of a thousand sweet potatoes in my garage to my lovely bride.
Life is good.
It dawned on me as I was heading home that the distribution of those sweet potatoes mirrored how some goals can have an imposing look about them.
A doctorate. A sales goal. A new acquisition. Standing at the foot of your desired accomplishment, it seems like a never ending collection of inconveniences, hardships, drudgery and even needed resources that are presently out of reach. You wonder how in the world you’re going to chip away at these obstacles to the point where your goal is realized.
The answer: The same way we handled those sweet potatoes – one bag at a time.
Galatians 6:9 says:
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Gal 6:9)
“Diligence” is a trait highlighted in Scripture more than once as an admirable quality – one that when deployed consistently results in good things (see Prov 10:4; 21:5). And you can find similar advantages manifested in the context of perseverance and faithfulness (Dt 11; Jas 1:4).
The bottom line is that there’s very little worthwhile in life that doesn’t require an approach characterized by a diligent effort deployed consistently over an extended period of time. It’s only when we allow ourselves to default to the typical “microwave mentality” that we get disappointed and even exasperated when the wheels are turning slow or our goal appears even more impossible today than it did yesterday.
And what makes that “microwave” perspective even more lethal is that it prevents us from being able to recognize the progress that is being made – much like the every shrinking level of sweet potatoes in that box!
So if you’re contemplating an ambitious project or you’re staring up at a challenge that seems insurmountable, remember the five foot hight box of sweet potatoes. “One bag at at time” over an extended period of time, gets the job done!
It’s Biblical, it’s practical and because of that – it’s do-able!
Go get ‘em!