There is a beautiful legend about a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, there was a large gathering in the palace courtyard. Four finalists were brought forward, and from these four, the king would select the winner.
Museums, zoos, and other amusement parks offer annual passes that let you get into their facilities anytime during the duration of the pass. It doesn’t matter how many times you go, but obviously you get the most benefit from the pass if you attend frequently.
In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. The satellite’s primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data to earth. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan, for at that time no earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars, and they feared the asteroid belt would destroy the satellite before it could reach its target. Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much, much more. Swinging past the giant planet in November 1973, Jupiter’s immense gravity hurled Pioneer 10 at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar system. At one billion miles from the sun, Pioneer 10 passed Saturn. At some two billion miles, it hurtled past Uranus; Neptune at nearly three billion miles; Pluto at almost four billion miles. By 1997, twenty-five years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than six billion miles from the sun.
Mistakes aren’t always bad. Toasted Ravioli began life when a chef dropped a traditional ravioli into the fryer instead of boiling water. It became an instant hit with numerous other Italian restaurants adding it to their menus. The Ooey Gooey Butter Cake had a similar birth. There are two different butter “smears”, one for the traditional pound type cake and the other designed to hold ingredients together like nuts. Back during the great depression a new baker added the wrong butter smear to the pound cake and he didn’t know it until it came out of the oven. The result was an ooey, gooey mess. Instead of throwing the batch out, they sold it and it, too, ended up being a regional favorite in the St. Louis area. Both were mistakes, but those mistakes created a whole new category of snack foods enjoyed by millions every year.
What is the difference in a post and a sapling tree? Plant a post and a tree in the ground side by side. At the beginning the tree is small, slender and easily bent or broken. The post, on the other hand, is large, solid and strong. It is hard to move and will support a fence. But then the forces of nature take over. The tree begins to grow little by little, gradually becoming bigger and stronger. In a few years it stands tall and sturdy, while the post planted at the same time has rotted and fallen over. What about those of us who profess to be Christians? Are we like the tree or the post? If our Christianity is dead, like the post, then we will surely grow weaker and weaker year by year, until finally we fall away. But, if we are truly alive in Christ, then the passing years will see us grow stronger and more mature than the beginning.