Like most mornings, I started today with a cup of coffee and my Bible. While I was reading, I thought about God’s wonderful deeds for mankind, and my lack of gratitude:
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
This morning I give thanks to these people I’ve never met:
- Thomas Edison for the light that shines about my head.
- Benjamin Franklin for the glasses I wear.
- The Wright brothers and their work in the field of aviation.
- Charles Babbage, the Father of Computers
- James Watt for his inventive mind that gave us the steam engine.
- Alexander Bell who gave the first truly functional telephone.
- Galileo because his genius improved accuracy of the compass; without which I’d still be lost in the wilderness.
- Henry Ford and his “moving assembly line” which allowed for the mass production of automobiles.
- Willis Carrier for the air conditioning that I enjoy during the hot and humid summer days.
Expressing gratitude and giving thanks are themes that run throughout the pages of the Bible. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul wrote: I thank God . . . as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day (1:3).
I encourage you to mimic Paul: Take some time today to reflect on the past year; express your gratitude, and say thanks to those who have helped you along the way and made your life a little easier.
I have always been amazed at the brilliant and inventive mind of Thomas Edison. During his lifetime, Edison developed many devices including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and his discoveries were the prototype of the modern day power grid.
To offer some insight into the mind of Edison, I have selected five simple but intriguing quotes that are credited to this wonderful man:
- The man who doesn’t make up his mind to cultivate the habit of thinking misses the greatest pleasure in life.
- The world owes nothing to any man, but every man owes something to the world.
- I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.
- Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
- I believe that the science of chemistry alone almost proves the existence of an intelligent creator.
In 1914, Edison’s factory burned to the ground destroying his one-of-a-kind prototypes. Edison’s response to the catastrophe revealed his character: “Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start fresh again.”
This remarkable statement by Edison, reminds me of Paul’s assessment of his life. Notice the value he places on what he lost and what he gained, and how he contrasts the earthly and the eternal: “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith (Philippians 3:7-9).”
What do you value most, the earthly or the eternal? Paul said: ” For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).“
We can either learn from our failures or fail to learn. I’ve seen some people who gave their best and failed, and from that point forward they never made any effort to try again. Think about the persistence of Edison who saw his life experiences as a learning lab: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Some of the main characters of the Bible, were close to success, but allowed their failure to define them:
• Abraham lied on several occasions.
• Moses had a fit of anger that kept him from entering the Promised Land.
• King Saul became so self-important that he engaged in work reserved for only a priest.
• Samson could subdue anything except his own desires.
• King David engaged in an adulterous affair.
• Peter failed time after time
The difference in the lives of these people is that some of them learned from their failures and took corrective action: The others failed to learn.
Edison also said that, “Failure is really a matter of conceit. People don’t work hard because, in their conceit, they imagine they’ll succeed without ever making an effort. Most people believe that they’ll wake up some day and find themselves rich. Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.”
As I think of Edison’s equation, I’m reminded of Paul’s words: “Knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light (Romans 13).”
Wake up to this fact: Today can be a day that you can learn from your failures, or you fail to learn. One is an attitude of strength, and the other is an attitude of weakness; and, as Edison said: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.”
How about giving life another chance and trying one more time.