Have you read The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper? It’s a children’s book and honestly, if you haven’t read it, where was your childhood? (I’m kidding!) Even for us who know of the book, it’s probably been a few (15? 20?) years. So, here’s a basic summary:

 A little railroad engine was employed to a station yard for simple work: pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning a large train asked the large engines in the roundhouse to take it over the hill so children on the other side of the mountain could receive their toys, but all the large engines refused. In desperation, the large train asked the little railroad engine and the little engine agreed by saying “I think I can.” As it went up the mountain the little engine endured by saying, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” She finally succeeded and rounded the top of the mountain. She celebrated all the way down saying, “I think I can, I thought I could, and I did!”

So what does this have to do with you? Glad you asked. Just like the Little Engine in the story needed endurance to do the job set before her, so do we. Hebrews 12:1-2 says “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” The Lord has a race set before you to run, but endurance is hard. For me, when I’m looking up the mountain, I’m saying, “you’ve got to be kidding me.” Despair appears and clings on so quickly. All of the sudden I’m worrying, fearful, having anxiety, staying up all night and biting all of my fingernails off. But here’s the deal: these mountains we’re looking up—these moments of hardship and trial that require endurance—they are for our good. Why? Because we know what the Lord says in James 1:2-3: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.­”

Wow. Through the testing of our faith—by going up the mountain—the Lord teaches us perseverance. With perseverance we are able to endure. We are able to run whatever race is marked out for us with ENDURANCE. We can run with all our might because we are running toward Jesus! In the midst of our trials, we are becoming more like Jesus! Hallelujah and amen!

And that’s what it’s all about, you know. The race, the trial, the mountain…it’s all for one reason: to become more like Jesus. The Lord wants you to walk in newness of life, He wants you to live a life in the image of Christ, He wants you to run this race with joy being like Christ, because 1 Corinthians 9:24 is right…”Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Fix your eyes on Jesus—when running up the mountain, in the midst of your trial—run toward your prize! And at the end, may this be true:

 “I think I can, I thought I could, and I did!”