How Long Does It Take To Eat An Elephant? (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

On the first day of my second year in medical school, I was introduced to pathology. This course is the basis for all medicine, teaching medical students about the intricacies of all disease, understanding why disease occurs, how it presents in the patient, and what it looks like under the microscope. During the first year of medical school, we heard from upperclassmen how brutal and demanding the class would be. In fact one attending physician even told me to read the first five chapters of the textbook, during the summer break,  just to get a headstart on the new year!

The first day of pathology did little to allay my fears. The professor looked at us and solemnly declared, “Pathology is a marathon. You will never have encounter a class that requires you to learn so much information in such a short period of time.  How long does it take to eat an elephant? You cannot do it in one day, or even a week or a month. But if you eat a little each day, eventually you will consume the entire animal. It is the same with pathology. Take a little each day, digest it, and when you are finished, go on to the next bite. By the end of the year, you will have completed the entire book.”

Like generations of medical students before and since, I made it through pathology. It was a daunting task, learning new words, reading other textbooks just to understand basic concepts in some chapters, and attempting to find a unifying concept that tied all the information together. It was a marathon. And it took a year to eat that elephant! Since that year, I have realized that you never truly finish any class in medical school. It is a lifelong education, continually learning, and revisiting the meal of the elephant.

When I first became a Christian, I felt a similar sense of foreboding. How will I ever be able to read the entire Bible, much less understand it? It was hundreds of pages in length. It contained allusions to historical and cultural events that were completely foreign to me. It even used words that were from other languages. Why didn’t God write the Bible in english? Funny how the same concerns I had about pathology were replicated with the Bible.

There are many Bible reading plans. I have seen plans that take one through the entire Bible in a year, three years, and five years. Some plans take a chronological approach, placing the order of the books in the approximate time frame when it was written. Still other plans are topical or biographical studies, showing how prominent themes are woven throughout the pages. Whichever plan you choose, it is important to chose one and just begin.

But when you read the Bible, you have an advantage that I never had when I tackled that pathology textbook. You are reading the Word of God. And through His Holy Spirit, God will illuminate the meaning of the passages you read.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Bible is God’s promise to us. We are to eat it, digest it, and meditate upon it. We are to be nourished by it and sustained by it. It may take longer than you think to read the entire Bible but it will never happen unless you begin.

How long does it take to eat an elephant? I don't know...but today is a good day to begin.

Blessings with Aloha!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.