The elephant must retire…
The elephant in the room is a frequently used idiom for an obvious issue that no one wants to address. That problem or issue is often obtuse and difficult to overlook. Yet, people typically find ways to creatively ignore the obvious in an attempt to avoid what must be discussed.
When I was a kid I loved the circus. The vibrant colors mixed with the synchronization of laughter and the awe of excitement painted lasting memories. Today, new acrobats flipping, clowns performing, lions roaring, and massive elephants marching still entice people to the Greatest Show on Earth. Above it all, I am most impressed by the elephants. How do they get these weighty pounds of flesh to dance, do head stands, and bow with grace and ease? There is even a Disney movie about a silly but aerobatic circus elephant with a tragic and triumphant story. How could you not love the circus elephants?
Soon, kids will no longer make a circus elephant memory. Can you imagine my shock when I read that The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus announced that they were phasing out their elephant attraction? As fun as it is to see them perform, the negativity they received from being a traveling attraction was surmounting.
But, just like the Disney movie, this thought starts tragic yet it will end in triumph.
Mark 11:23-25 (ESV)
Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[c] it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Many people refer to their life as their own private circus. It is a cornucopia of joy, pain, mishaps, circumstances, successes, and spectators. The private circus has performers and spectators. The performers are the people trying to keep it all together and the spectators are some people enjoying the show and some people hoping for failure. Don’t forget the elephant of the show. That is our big attraction that everyone can see but needs to retire.
I believe that we all have elephants in our circus that have gained great attention but need to be let go. What is your elephant? Have you developed a personality or character trait that no longer defines you? Maybe you have allowed an old circumstance great dominance in your life. Maybe you carry an addiction that everyone is aware of but no one will address.
The fear that exists with letting go of the elephant rests in wondering if the show will continue.
In the Gospel of Mark we are taught through the metaphor of moving mountains that even the most substantial and resistant objects can be moved. Not only can they move but we also can move on with our lives.
With unwavering confidence you must retire your elephant. This isn’t magic, it's faith. Your Father in Heaven, who moved matter to make you cares deeply about what matters to you. He can remove your giant circus attraction but you must diligently believe and speak to Him about it through prayer.
The show will go on! I am not sure what the circus will use to replace the elephant attraction. What I do know is that it is trademarked The Greatest Show on Earth and you don’t take away a big attraction without having a better plan in mind. God never digs out holes without planting something great. It’s ok to retire your elephant and keep the lights on - the Creator of the Universe has something greater behind the curtain.
Verse 25 says stand and pray then it says you must forgive others so that your Heavenly Father can forgive you. If your elephant is forgiveness, don’t allow that big beast to stink up your show with droppings of bitterness and anger. Forgive and get forgiven!
What is your elephant?
When will you let it retire?