The pile was the winter’s accumulation of bovine refuse left there for spring removal. It had grown larger with each post milking deposit. The parlor ‘must’ be kept clean! So there I stood with Dad, surveying the 7-8 thousand pounds of potential ‘fertilizer’ and receiving instructions as to how I should prepare for planting by spreading it in a nearby field.
Everything was prepared: tractor/manure spreader ready, the know-how to accomplish the task (well kind of: I had driven the tractor and spreader through the garden fence last year this time trying to learn how to drive the model 60 John Deere tractor) and a pitch fork specially designed to fit my youthful hands. And oh, yes, the gloves.
‘But, Dad’, I protested. ‘That’s a BIG pile’! ‘I know son’, he acknowledged as matter-of-fact as possible. ‘But you can do it’, he encouraged. ‘Remember, JUST KEEP CHIPPING AWAY at it and you’ll soon be done’.
With that, he turned on his heel and disappeared into the barn to sanitize the milking equipment. I wasn’t much into Eeyore yet. We didn’t have a television. His ‘cartoonish’ tactics would be learned in a couple of years, so my protest was both short lived and ineffective. Now the work.
I began by ‘pitching’ one forkful into the spreader. Then another. Before long I began to notice that the edges of the pile were getting smaller and the first load was almost ready to go. Once I got back from unloading it, I paid more attention to the way the pile was decreasing in size than I did about how big it was. With each field delivered load, my encouragement grew. ‘I will get this done’ I reasoned. Soon, I could tell Dad that I was finished. His approval was an exciting prospect. I was thrilled when it came. And to think, my sense of relieved accomplishment occurred because I just kept ‘CHIPPING AWAY’. How much I enjoyed putting the pitch fork back in its place.
Generally speaking, what was true then in my farming days is also true in life, now. Pick the activity and consider the potential thrill of finishing it by just chipping away at it. A stubborn habit can be conquered with God’s help by just chipping away at it. You can read through the Bible in a year by just chipping away at it. You can memorize that favorite set of verses by just chipping away at it. Lesser or greater feats are accomplished in just that manner, whether it’s riding your bike across Wisconsin (123 miles behind us with 69 ahead of us), mowing the yard, painting that room or the house, treating the deck, seal coating the drive, succeeding in an exercise program or a myriad of other tasks.
Remember what the Lord inspired the Apostle Paul to write in Philippians 3:12ff, ‘Not that I have already obtained all this…but I PRESS ON…toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus’. In other words, in your spiritual life ‘just keep chipping away’.