By Bob Polk
One of the most popular children’s stories of all times is “The Little Engine That Could.” As early as 1906, a version was published in a Sunday school paper. Although other versions appeared, the best-known edition was released by Platt and Mauk in 1930. In 1954 they published a revised edition including colorful illustrations. In 2007 the National Education Association listed it as one of the top 100 books for children. In 1911 a 3D movie was released using Whoopi Goldberg and others as the voices. It is the story of a little engine who chose to pull a long train over a mountain when the big engines had declined. Although it seemed like an impossible task, the little engine kept saying, “I think I can, I think I can,” until it topped the mountain. It is a simple and beautiful story about never giving up.
When I was a teenager, I had a job working for the local shoe shop. In those days most people took worn shoes to the cobbler to replace heels or repair the sole. My job was to be a helper. The owner would receive the shoes, place them on an anvil, remove the old heels and replace them with new ones. He would take a special knife and cut the old sole and replace it with a half sole. This required nailing and grinding the edge of the repaired shoe. He would pass it to me, and I would stain the edges, polish them and place them on the counter for the customer. It was also my job to sweep the floors.
One day a customer arrived to pick up his shoes. The owner was away for a while, and I was left alone to manage the shop. The man’s shoes were not finished. They needed to be trimmed and ground smoothly, and he wanted me to finish them. I had never tried it before and I did not think I could. He was very persistent, but I was afraid to try. When the customer returned later, he was very understanding and encouraged my boss to let me try, but he never did. Maybe I needed to remember the little engine and say, “I think I can, I think I can.”
There is a better reason to attempt things other than remembering the little engine. The Apostle Paul was writing to a church at Philippi about his experience about facing difficult tasks. He said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippines 4:13,19 NKJV) He also reminded them “And my God shall supply all you need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” I like the story of the little engine, but Paul’s testimony is better for me.