Tag Archives: selfishness

Four Lessons Learned

Four Lessons from “The Little Engine That Could”

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A while ago I wrote this article on another platform. I thought you would enjoy it and learn what a little book can teach us. It’s amazing what lessons we can learn from children’s books.

This past weekend I had the delightful job to read to my 3-year-old granddaughter. She chose “The Little Engine That Could”. Not only do I remember reading this book to my children but I remember reading it as a child. And I remember reading to my grade ones when I taught school.

The history of the book goes through several versions until Arnold Munk with the pen name of Watty Piper, wrote and had it published in 1930. Lois Lenski did the first pictures. An updated version, published in 1954 had colourful illustrations by George and Doris Hauman. This is the version I remember and the one that is on the children’s bookshelf.

As I read the story to my granddaughter I got excited about how the story built up emotion and taught lessons on the way.

The story is about a little train who wants to bring presents over the hill to children in another town. They are patiently and excitedly awaiting their gifts. However, on the way to the town, the little engine breaks down. The toys are very upset and the funny little clown sets off to find another train to help them.

As they go to the different trains asking for help, I thought about all the things we put faith in here on earth instead of what God would want us to.

Four Faith Lessons from Four Trains

We put much status into buying new things. There is always a new widget or gizmo that we want to have. Cellphones and computers top the list for new innovations and the need to have the latest model.

This release of new gizmos is gaining momentum each year.

When I stop to think about it we purchased our first computer in 1989 — it was an amazing TI99 4/A. And we watched it on our TV. (Hubby and I are trying to remember all this.) I know we purchased a used Apple IIe after that. I think I did some early programming on that machine. It couldn’t do much but it fascinated me.


TI99 4/A similar to the one we had.


Apple IIe like our second computer.

But ever since those first computers, things have moved swiftly forward. Newer and better.

Do we look down on things that aren’t perfect and shiny; that aren’t new?

Personally, I love refurbishing old things to make them new. I like things that are made of wood not plastic.


My grandfather’s end table that I refurbished years ago.

When we were younger we didn’t take a car loan. Instead, we bought used cars and saved our money. As long as the car ran that’s all that mattered. We still often buy used cars because the depreciation on a new vehicle is ridiculous. Check it out before you decide on your next vehicle.

But the shiny New Engine didn’t want to help the little toy train because he was too special — too proud. He looked down on the little train and said a resounding “NO”.

2.) Next comes a Big Engine:

We always think might is right and power makes things happen. But if we look throughout history we see the powerful fall from their towers. They topple down. They can’t keep up the illusion.

“Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day (Deuteronomy 8:17–18, The Message).”

Bigger is better, right? Let’s look at the monster homes of this age.

Why do we need so much space? What’s the purpose?

When we downsized from our family home (the first time), we bought a small townhome. I enjoyed the two years we lived there. There was more time to get out and do things — not being tied to looking after a big home.

Bigger isn’t better. Look at your needs, not at your wants. Enjoy what you have now. Save for the future. Take experiences (playing in the park, walking somewhere new) instead of putting out big bucks for new and big items.

I thought about the Christian church — bigger is not always better. In fact when you get so many people joining how can you be sure that they are in fellowship with one another?

I love this article:

But the Big Engine says he is too important and won’t “pull the likes of you”.

Sometimes we do get tired and defeated. We figure we are too old, or not useful. The defeatist attitude stalks our every moment.

I think these thoughts need to be taken captive as I have learned that Christ gives me strength.

Here is a great article on Crosswalk.com about taking your thoughts captive:

A couple of years ago I volunteered to run a VBS at our church. From the first day, I caught a really bad cold and cough. I didn’t know how I was going to keep going. I kept praying. And I kept going.

The minister set up a microphone system so I could talk softly into it and the kids could hear me. Actually, I found the entire week filled with peace. The kids sensed the need to work well and quietly. We had fun.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13, NIV).”

But the Rusty Old Engine sighed and said he could not. He was too tired and weary.

A Little Blue Engine comes chugging merrily along. The dolls and toys don’t have to ask this train for help, she asks them what’s wrong. She tells them she isn’t very big and has never been over the mountain.

Do you sometimes feel that a job is too big for you to handle?
Do you feel overwhelmed with the details and difficulty of the task?

Well, this little engine can teach us lessons.

She thought of what the kids would be missing if this little train didn’t bring the gifts to the boys and girls on the other side of the mountain.

And then she said: I think I can. I think I can. It was a supreme effort but she kept chugging along saying — I think I can.

If there are times you don’t think you can do something — ask Jesus. He is right there to give you the strength, courage or inspiration to get the job done.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10, NIV).”

If there are times you need to go somewhere or do something you have never attempted, remember from scripture:

“but the righteous are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1, NIV).”


Bible Art by Janis Cox

And the Little Blue Engine pulled that train up the mountain and down into the town to deliver the presents to the boys and girls.

These were my discoveries as I read this book to my granddaughter. Certainly, there are 4 good life lessons to get from this tiny book.

  1. Don’t be swayed by new things.
  2. Bigger is not necessarily better.
  3. Even when you feel unable to do a task, Jesus can strengthen you.
  4. Say: I think I can. Then be bold and do it.

Am I Responsible?

Am I Responsible?

by Susan Hitchman


Wikipedia picture

A twinge of conscience pricked my heart as I walked past the older woman. The street was thronging with people coming and going from Seattle’s Pike Street Market, and panhandlers were everywhere. But as I stepped past her and stood with my family waiting for the crosswalk light to turn, I saw her wearily rest her head against the light pole.

Was it a ploy?

The other panhandlers were bold, flaunting cardboard signs linking love for God with supporting their marijuana habits. It was easier walking past them than her. But as our walk light lit up, I stepped out and crossed the street with my family. I was a visitor to Seattle.

Was I responsible?

The next morning as I sat reading my Bible and praying in a quiet corner of the hotel lobby, the picture of the street woman kept filling my mind. I saw myself doing what I should have done, my arm reaching across her shoulders as I simply asked, “Are you O.K?” I was looking into her eyes, granting her the dignity of comfort in human suffering.

I was overwhelmed with the awareness of my selfishness.

As I inwardly moaned in repentance, I asked for forgiveness. That opportunity to show God’s love to an aching heart was gone. Would God’s mercy grant me another opportunity to do it right?

The young King Josiah was in a predicament not unlike mine. Upon hearing the recently discovered ‘Book of the Law’ read to him, he too was overwhelmed with an awareness of sin. Visions of the idolatries and cruelties his kingly forbears had committed rose in his mind.  He was more expressive than me, tearing his robes and weeping, taking steps to inquire through a prophetess the LORD’s verdict.

In this story we’re given an incredible glimpse of God’s perspective. We’re told that God observed that Josiah’s “heart was responsive and (he) humbled (him)self before the LORD”.

“Because you…wept in my presence, I have heard you”, God declares (2 Kings 22:19, NIV).

We’re not told that Josiah had actually prayed in so many words, yet God heard him. Josiah had wept in remorse and repentance. He had been responsive to God’s Spirit revealing Himself and His commands through His Word. He had humbled himself and took steps to repair the situation.

Perhaps you too have wept a tear or two over your awareness of failings in your life. Take heart. That is one form of prayer. If your heart is responsive to His convicting Word and you humble yourself in repentance, there is great hope. God has heard you and is willing to help you turn your tears into actions of obedience.

“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5, NIV).

Go ahead and cry; it speaks volumes to God.


Go ahead and cry; it speaks volumes to God. (tweet this)

I was overwhelmed with the awareness of my selfishness. (tweet this)

Sue Hitchman

Susan Hitchman

Sue  seeks to integrate the adventure of following Christ with her roles as wife, mother of five, co-leader of a women’s Bible study group and parent prayer group, and retreat speaker.  She is a member of The Word Guild and NCWA. Outdoor pursuits (cycling, gardening, hiking, & kayaking) remind her of God’s creative bent and constant presence. She writes to encourage others in their journey of faith in God.  Visit her blog at: Word Made Flesh


Be Honest – Part 3

In the first two posts I have described two of the things that can blindside us from the Truth in what God is telling us. I discussed both jealousy and a critical nature.

This week’s question is:

Do I have anything selfish to gain from this outcome?

One sentence in the study stood out. Some people enjoy being right about people being wrong. Ouch. At first I pushed this one away – and I said, “I don’t think that way. I am following Christ. I don’t want anyone to be wrong.” Oops – not true. I think about when I think I am right about something and my husband disagrees with me. Boy do I want to be right! And when I am proved right – smug is the word. And if I am proved wrong – it is very humbling and I don’t want to admit it.

Here is another statement: Pride pushes us to desire our best over the best of others. Double ouch. When I used to curl (a competitive team game played on ice) I found myself so engrossed in the game of winning that I got tense and wanted everyone to put as much effort as I did into their play. Of course, being tense did nothing to help my own contribution to the team and being overly hyper in my demands did nothing to help anyone else either. I pulled back from competitive play because I didn’t like me anymore. Now I have started to learn tennis. So far, so good but I am only learning – haven’t really played a game. Have I learned enough to pray before – in order to remember what is really important – people and their hearts? Being Christ and showing Christ?

Rather than merely looking out for my interest, can I begin to place the needs of others before my own?

The only way to see God in situations is to see myself in His Light. Will He shine in me today? Can I push my pride aside and get my personal agenda out of the way to see God? Hard questions. Only God can help me do that. One day at a time.


Father, help me to push self to the side, and seek Your face. Help me see if I am doing something from selfishness. Help me place others’ needs before my own. In Jesus’ name. AMEN

Next week I will continue with the last question. This study is based on a book called Faithful, Abundant and True with Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore.