ACHIEVEMENT: Margaret Groos is an accomplished marathon runner. Of her achievements she writes: "When I was fifteen, I had lucky underwear. When that failed, I had a lucky hairdo, then a lucky race number, even lucky race days. After fifteen years, I've found the secret to success is simple. It's hard work." The truth is, the harder we work the luckier we get. (Reader's Digest, February 2000, p.77)
ATTRACTION: During July of 2002, a group of students from Westgate Memorial Baptist Church (Beaumont, Texas) went on a mission trip to New York City. The week was filled with opportunities to meet and speak with thousands of people. After a long day of work, one of the teenagers spotted an especially handsome guy. When she pointed him out to some other girls in their group, they all agreed he was "hot." An insightful sponsor seized the moment to help these girls see things a bit differently. When they acknowledged this total stranger was "hot," their sponsor replied, "How can you tell? You can't see his heart." Attraction to others, whether it's romantic or platonic, needs to include a good look at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
CHANGE: Charles Kettering (1876-1958) was a brilliant inventor and entrepreneur. In 1909 he founded Dayton Engineering Laboratories (Delco). He later sold his company to General Motors in 1919, but soon became frustrated with a group of engineers who prevented progress with their seemingly infallible calculations. At the time, it took over a month to paint a car, but Kettering believed the process could be shortened to just one hour. The engineers disagreed, so Kettering was determined to prove them wrong. He soon developed his own quick-drying paint but the engineers insisted a one-hour paint job was impossible. To prove his point, the eccentric Kettering arranged for a rather convincing lunch with one of his skeptics. After a leisurely meal with no specific agenda, the two men headed out to the GM parking lot. Kettering's guest was somewhat embarrassed in that he couldn't find his car. Motioning to one particular vehicle, Kettering asked, "Isn't that yours?" The man replied, "It looks like mine, but my car isn't that color." Kettering then said, "Now it is." Improvement, progress, and change aren't as impossible as we sometimes think. (Inc., October 1997, p.128)
CONSEQUENCES: Whether or not space debris will ever be considered a contributing factor to the demise of space shuttle Columbia, it is nonetheless a significant problem. There are nearly 9,000 known pieces of junk orbiting the earth. That calculates to about four million pounds of nuts, bolts, and miscellaneous debris. An additional 100,000 smaller objects are cluttering up low Earth orbit. Even though they are small, their speed makes them very dangerous. A small object traveling at 17,500 miles per hour would have the energy of a 400-pound safe moving at 60 mph. In 1965, Edward White lost a glove during the first U.S. spacewalk. It stayed in orbit for about a month while circling the globe at 17,500 mph. As NASA experts say, "It became the most dangerous garment in history." A lot of the debris came from the Mir space station during it first ten years of operation as rubbish bags were regularly discarded. All of this adds up to a big problem in that space shuttles now have a six-percent chance of being struck by an object large enough to cause serious damage, It's not hard to draw the comparison of how our lives get littered like space. Actions or attitudes that seem rather insignificant at the time, start piling up and eventually grow into major problems. May we consider the consequences of our actions before we do something that might ultimately bring greater pain to ourselves or others. (Houston Chronicle, 2/7/3, p.1A)
CROSS: During the Reagan era, Vice President George Bush represented the United States at Leonid Brezhnev's funeral. The Soviet leader died during the height of Russian atheism, and before the collapse of communism. At that funeral, Mr. Bush saw one of the most remarkable gestures by Brezhnev's grieving widow. As the soldiers prepared to close the lid over Brezhnev's body, his wife quickly reached out and drew the sign of the cross on his chest. She stood at the epicenter of atheistic power yet cried out for the power of the Cross. As William Law, the 18th century Anglican wrote, "What message from heaven speaks louder to us than the daily dying and departure of our fellow creatures does?" Death is indeed life's strongest reminder that we need the salvation which comes only through Christ's sacrificial death on the Cross. (World, 12/28/96, p.26)
DEATH: After Ann Landers died on June 22, 2002, her daughter left and interesting tribute in their syndicated column. Margo Howard's farewell column on June 25th included facts and memories about her mom, and a conspicuous blank space. The idea came from a column Landers had written years ago. When Esther "Eppie" Lederer (a.k.a. Ann Landers) and her husband divorced after many years of marriage, she wrote a shorter than normal column and asked the editors to leave a white space at the bottom. She said the noticeable blank spot would be a memorial to a good marriage that didn't quite make it to the finish line. When Ann Landers died at the age of eighty-three, there were still columns to write even though she had already written nearly fifty years worth of advice. Her death occurred like each of ours will, with "white space" remaining. Life is not about trying to fill in all the white space, but being prepared for the time when it arrives. (Houston Chronicle, 6/25/2, p.1E)