T he genesis was an email exchange in early February of 2014 with my Pastor about my adjustment to a new city and new job. In closing I said, “I’m happy to know you have confidence in me, I am working on strengthening the confidence I have in myself.  I’m like the little engine that could.” That thought inspired me to revisit the childhood classic. I immediately went online to reread the story, as retold by Watty Piper and something clicked. Before I go on, allow me to jog your memory…

There was a little train. It was filled with toys and food and all types of goodies for deserving children on the other side of the mountain. Full of energy, hope, and good intention this little train set out on its course. Due to unforeseen circumstances the train broke down, with all that hope and all those good intentions, the wheels just would not move. The little train was hoping for an engine to help it over the mountain, a few engines passed – A Shiny Engine and A Big Strong Engine—to name a few. The little train begged the passing engines for help. Though they were fully capable, they refused to help. After all, what glory would it bring them to help a little ‘ole train over a mountain. As one would imagine, after hearing ‘no’ repeatedly the little train became discouraged, on the verge of tears even. In this moment of defeat, the little train notices a little blue engine approaching. Though the engine was very small in size the little train still asked for help. After explaining how important it was to get the toys and food to the kids, the train then pleaded “please, please, please” The little blue engine first stated the obvious, “I’m not very big” followed by some self-doubt “They only use me for switching in the yard, I have never been over a mountain” Even with these concerns the little blue engine felt some sort of obligation to help that little train, so it hitched itself on to the train and began to recite an affirmation “I think I can…. I think I can… I think I can….” Eventually the little engine and the train made it over the mountain.. - ” Eventually the little engine and the train made it over the mountain.

As a child, my biggest takeaway from this story was the power of positive thinking and that you can achieve big things even when they seem impossible. But when I read the story this time, something else stood out, beyond the Little Blue Engine thinking that it could, the engine first had a willingness to commit to help that train. It made me think about what I am willing to unselfishly hitch my wagon to. I thought, What am I doing for those that can never repay me? Who am I fully capable of helping but passing by? My thoughts reminded me of how small I am in comparison to the course that God has set out for me. We all know someone or some noble cause that may be stuck, what if I started the conversation to provoke people to hitch their wagon to that person, or cause? What would that world look like?
These thoughts, in that moment birthed The Little Engine Project.

Written by littleengine

Leave a Comment