Last night I watched the movie Hidden Figures again and was just as moved by the story the second time around. The movie tells the untold story of three African-American women and the role they played working at NASA helping to get a man on the moon. Katherine Johnson, the mathematician; Mary Jackson, the engineer; and Dorothy Vaughn, the first computer operator. I was inspired by their stories of courage, charting new territory and trying something for the first time. Of living a life of deep meaning even if they had to struggle in order to do it. And that is what I have been reflecting on, the courage to live a life of meaning and how easy it is to just coast through life.
I did laugh at the reminder that computers used to be the size of a large office room and the change it brought into our lives is immeasurable. The capacity of the computer was not fully grasped at its origin by most of the world surrounding it. But a few figured that out, including Dorothy Vaughn. That in turn, reminded me of another story I came across researching a sermon a few weeks ago. Maybe one you are also familiar with but I had missed or forgotten this along the way.
Steven Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the founders of Apple Computers at age 21 managed to invent the Apple computer, fitting it into a box small enough to sit on your desk. Realizing they had made a major breakthrough (in the garage of their parents’ home) they offered their invention to Atari. They weren’t interesting in the big dollar signs, they just wanted a salary that would allow them to continue their work. Atari said no. They offered it to Hewlett-Packard who also said no. (Kicking themselves later!!!)
It seemed only Jobs and Wozniak wearable to see the value in what they had created. So Jobs sold his Volkswagen and Wozniak sold his calculator and pooled together their $1300 in order to form Apple Computers. (Named Apple after fond memories of a former summer job Steven Jobs had spent working in an orchard.) Off they went , Jobs as the visionary and Wozniak as the engineer.
It didn’t take long to realize that the vision was bigger than what the two of them were capable of doing. They needed greater management expertise. So Jobs approached John Sculley, President of PepsiCo. When you think about it, there is no logical reason why Sculley should leave a highly paid, secure job at one of the top companies in the world to join a bunch of computer nerds in California in an untested industry. He said no. But Jobs was relentless and approached Sculley again and again. Finally, Jobs gave it one more try using his best visionary passion painting a picture of what could be. He asked Sculley:
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” – Steven Jobs
Indeed, Sculley and Jobs went on to change the world. I imagine it was a similar scope question that Jesus used to approach the disciples. “Do you want to fish for fish the rest of your boring life or do you want to learn how to fish for people and make a life changing difference in their lives and yours?”
Jesus offers us the same transformational opportunity today. Most of us spend our lives making sugared water, going to work to accumulate more possessions and perhaps finding space for God and the world in our spare time. But Jesus had a vision to change the world. His was the vision of the Kingdom of God and he calls us to place it at the center of our lives, to make it our reason for existence. If we have the courage and the will.
33 Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33 CEB
Are you living a life of deep meaning or are you just – living? Do you want to make sugared water the rest of your life or do you want a chance to change the world?
Grace and Peace,