Summary: Unlike the crowds on Palm Sunday, who hailed Jesus as king but only days later demanded that he be crucified, we need to hold on to our faith and hope in Christ. Here's why and how.
I’d like to begin this morning with a story. It involves these men [photo of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs]. You probably recognize them: Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. The two men who founded Apple Computer. Right? Well, no, actually that’s not accurate. Here is a photo of the original partnership agreement, dated April 1, 1976 [Apple partnership agreement]. As you can see, it has three signatures, not two. The first is Stephen G. Wozniak. The second is Steven P. Jobs. And the third is Ronald G. Wayne. Here’s a picture of him
[photo of Ronald G. Wayne]. Who is that, you may ask.
Ronald Wayne was the third co-founder of Apple, with a ten percent ownership stake. Remember that figure: ten percent. He wasn’t an engineer, but he had a significant role in the early days of the company: he designed the first Apple logo, he wrote the user manual for the Apple 1 computer, and in general he provided administrative oversight of the new venture. He was the unofficial adult in the room: he was in his forties at the time.
So why haven’t most of us ever heard of Ronald Wayne? Is he a wealthy recluse, staying out of the public eye while he sails around the world on his 300-foot luxury yacht? Perhaps he’s a philanthropist, distributing his millions to deserving charities. No. No, neither of those things is true. In fact, today Ronald Wayne is far from wealthy. Because just twelve days after these partnership documents were signed, he and the others signed a second document [Dissolution of partnership document]. And in this document, he gave up his ten percent stake, in exchange for eight hundred dollars. Eight hundred dollars.
Let me ask you, would you be willing to pay $800 for ten percent of Apple Computer today? So what happened? Well, Wayne had second thoughts. As a partner, he would have been liable for any debts incurred by the new company, and that was a risk. He had assets that creditors could come after if the company went broke. He also felt a bit out of his league with Jobs and Wozniak, these two whiz-kid geniuses. And so he bailed. Took the $800 check and parted ways with them. And the rest is history.
Now, just for fun, let’s calculate what Wayne’s ten percent stake in Apple would be worth if he had held on to it all these years. Apple today is worth about $800 Billion dollars. And so that ten percent stake in 1976 would today be worth about $80 Billion dollars. That’s right. The ownership stake that Ronald Wayne relinquished in 1976 for eight hundred would today be worth over eighty billion dollars. In other words, about a hundred million times what he sold it for. Just let that sink in for a moment. Now, for the record, Mr. Wayne says today that he doesn’t regret his decision, and that it was based on the best information he had at the time. So, he’s made his peace with it. But you have to suspect that more than once, over the years, he’s said to himself: “If only . . . “.
However, Ronald Wayne isn’t the only person who sold their Apple stock too soon.
Apple went public on December 12, 1980. And for 23 years, the stock didn’t do much. [chart: Apple stock price IPO-2013]. A lot of people sold their stock during that time. But beginning in 2013, the stock really took off. Here’s a graph [chart: Apple stock since IPO]. What that all boils down to is this: an investment of one thousand dollars in 1980 would today be worth about $400 thousand dollars. An investment of $2,500 back then would be worth close to a million today. Why is there never a time machine around when you need one?
I don’t share that story to gloat about buying Apple stock in 1980. I didn’t. If I had, I would probably be spending my winters in a warmer climate than Cleveland offers. Maybe on my own private yacht somewhere. No, I share that story to urge you not to do what Ronald Wayne did when he sold his stake in Apple for $800 instead of waiting to cash in at $80 billion dollars. I’m urging you not to do what all those Apple investors did who sold early and missed out on returns of literally hundreds of times what they had paid. I’m urging you to follow the ultimate buy-and-hold strategy.
You’ve probably guessed that I’m not really talking about stocks, or money, or financial investments. No, not per se. I’m not promising that the money you put into the offering plate will be multiplied and returned to you; at least, not as financial returns. No, what I’m talking about is actually much more valuable. It’s something you already possess as a follower of Jesus Christ, and that is a share in the kingdom of God. And what I’m urging you to do is to hold on to that, to persevere, no matter what happens, even at the cost of everything else. Because someday, that will be worth more than you can possibly imagine. If you will just hold on, and not give up.