Dr. Jim Denison recently authored a fascinating Daily Article, about a piece which appeared in the MIT Technology Review. It described the work of scientists at Colossal Biosciences in Austin, Texas, to recreate the ancient dodo bird. They are genetically altering the Nicobar pigeon, the dodo’s closest relative, to gradually recreate its’ long extinct relative.
The technique to recover the extinct bird is based upon research by a team from the University of California in Santa Cruz, which recovered DNA from the 500-year-old remains of a dodo in a Denmark museum.
The dodo is not the only extinct creature Colossal Biosciences hopes to return to us. Ben Lamm, Colossal’s CEO, hopes that by 2029, they will have changed an elephant into a woolly mammoth. The group also hopes to eventually recreate the Tasmanian tiger. Their groundbreaking project has attracted enough interest that several billionaires are investing in the venture.
Those of us who are not scientists might expect the leap from Nicobar pigeon to dodo or from elephant to woolly mammoth to be quick, however, this is not the case. There are numerous complicated and time-consuming steps required to return an animal that has long been extinct. Each of these steps may individually be small but all are necessary.
While big dreams are wonderful, truly incredible things are rarely achieved quickly or in a single moment. Significant accomplishments always require a series of small actions which build on each other.
Jesus made a similar point when he said, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” (Luke 16:10, NLT) In other words, if you cannot be reliable in small simple tasks, then you cannot be trusted with bigger more important ones.
I often reference this principle when counseling people. Every marriage is either moving toward greater health or toward greater disfunction, but those steps are generally small. I challenge struggling couples to work toward small victories in their relationship and to build on those successes which often change the trajectory of the marriage.
Since life’s greatest accomplishments usually require many small steps, this is the way scientists hope to recreate extinct animals and is often the way you and I become the person God wants us to be. While grand steps are amazing, this is not the way most major change occurs.
Instead of asking what monumental change you can make today, focus instead on minor changes you can make, which over the long run add up and change our lives in dramatic ways.