Summary: God’s grace can overcome.
Last Wednesday, while we were in Louisiana, Christopher introduced us to his new favorite television program. It even has surpassed wrestling in his mind, thanks be to God. Unfortunately, when he comes back home it will probably switch back. We don’t get the Learning Channel on the cable and that is the channel with "Junkyard Wars."
It really is a good show. The one we watched was the "world championship." There were two teams of four, one from the United States and one from England. Each show the teams are given an assignment to build something from what is available in the junkyard. They give them all the tools they need and so many hours to complete the assignment. In this assignment the teams were told to build a car crusher. When complete, the team that could smash their car to the smallest height would be the winner. During the building stage on this particular show, the captain of the English team looked across the fence that separated the two teams and said, "It will never work." He was wrong. Not only did the American’s giant sledgehammer work it won the contest.
Of course what the British captain was trying to do was taunt and intimidate. His words are all too familiar to many. Throughout history there have been those who have blessed our lives with great inventions. I think it is probably equally true that there have been those who stood on the sidelines watching the work and thinking, or maybe even saying, "that can’t be done." I don’t know what it is about us that makes us think that something can’t be done, but all too often our imaginations are stagnant.
When the Wright Brothers were working on the airplane, when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, and Henry Ford invented the automobile there were those that stood back watching, saying, "that can’t be done."
In the time I have spent studying history, I have learned that Alexander Graham Bell was no different. When Bell developed improvements in the telegraph, creating the harmonic telegraph, many said that his work was a waste of time, effort, and money. It can’t be done. When he improved the telegraph to the point that it could carry multiple code messages on a single wire, others were saying, "it can’t be done." Even though the National Science Foundation gave him a grant that funded most of his research, there were still those that said, "Transmitting voices over wire, it can’t be done." When everything was complete, there were still those saying, "it can’t be done."
And, where would we be without Mr. Bell’s invention. The single invention of the telephone and the research Bell did in the ways that sound travels eventually resulted in the inventions of the radio and television. Without the invention of the telephone we would not have the internet, fax machines, and of course calls from telemarketers interrupting our evening meals.
Though at times in my life, I get very frustrated with the telephone, I don’t know where we would be without that little invention. It is truly amazing to me that I can pick that thing up and talk to my next door neighbor, someone across town, across the state, even someone on the other side of the country. For the last two years we have been talking to Wayne on the other side of the world.
While I recognize the importance of the telephone, I must admit to you that I would be one of those who would have been standing back and watching Mr. Bell saying, "It can’t be done." I know I would be one because on two different occasions in my life, I thought something could not be done and then I was proven wrong, both related, in their own way to the telephone. There were probably more, these two where what jumped out in my mind.
When I was a Cub Scout we had to do an age old experiment with two cans tied together by a piece of string. When the string is tight, it carries the sound waves from one can to the other, making a simple telephone. When we started doing the experiment, I thought there was no way that could possibly work. I can’t remember if I said anything or not. I was amazed when I found out that I was wrong.
The second time was when I was in the Navy. They started talking about sound powered phones. They are vital on Navy ships because should something happen to the ship, and it lost power, there would be no way to make the phones work and therefore communication from one place on the ship to another would stop. I just didn’t see in my mind anyway that this could possibly work. It does work, however, though I still couldn’t begin to tell you how.