Keith Wishum: How do you see it?
What do you see when you look at a worn-out tire? A nuisance? After all, not only must you pay for new tires, you must pay a fee to discard your old ones! Do you see anything good about old tires?
Chad Foster did. Selling playground equipment, Foster saw a need for some type of soft surface for playgrounds. He looked at a discarded tire and saw what nobody else had — an inexpensive source of pliable material for playgrounds. Today, you see the results in the play areas outside of fast food restaurants around the world.
Swiss inventor George de Mestral went for a walk. Afterward, finding his pants covered with pesky cockleburs, he was curious to learn what made the burrs stick. Under a microscope, he discovered their natural hook-like shape, and he developed a product that we now know primarily as Velcro.
What do you see when you look at sand? When engineers needed material for semiconductors for computers, silicon, was used. It is one of most common elements on earth — only oxygen is more prevalent. It occurs naturally most often as silicon dioxide — the principle constituent of sand. In 1967, a company was formed to market the products made ultimately from common sand. They called it Intel. You know the rest.
There is more than one way to see a situation. Where some see problems, others see opportunity. The apostle Paul says that we can all learn to see the world in a different way that leads us to greater happiness. He found the secret of being happy in every situation (Philippians 4:12), and he shares his secret with us.
Paul was arrested for preaching. (Some say my preaching is a crime, but I’ve not been locked up — yet!) That was neither fair nor pleasant, and Paul could have wallowed in misery. Instead, he saw the good in his situation and celebrated it.
“What has happened to me,” he says, “has really served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). “It’s a bad situation, but there is good,” he says, “Because all the guards are hearing why I’m here and are learning about Jesus!”
Paul had a choice. He could focus on the negative and be miserable. Or, he could see the good in his situation. Paul chose joy.
We can too! It might be simply a matter of changing how we look at things.
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road of Christ, Americus.