Last week, my wife and I went to Washington, DC, and took a tour of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I can remember studying the history of flight when I was in second grade, and we watched videos and looked at pictures featuring the subjects now located in the Smithsonian, so this was at the top of my list of places to visit.
While it was great to see all the old planes, rockets, space shuttles, and satellites, the thing that fascinated me the most was the exhibit of the Wright Brothers.
Brief history: Back in December of 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright were the first ones to actually fly a plane. Up to this point, several others had created aircraft that mostly fell and crashed, but never flew. The Wright brothers were the first ones to create an aircraft that actually flew in a controlled path of considerable distance. Hopefully, you remember that from school.
The disappointing part of the Wright brothers’ story is that Wilbur passed away 9 years later in 1912, but Orville lived until 1948. The amazing thing that I noticed in the Air and Space Museum is that roughly 80% of the exhibits there centered on things that happened between 1912-1948. The Wright brothers, together, made a fascinating breakthrough that launched the age of flight, but Wilbur never got to see it.
Between 1912-1948, there were two world wars, which led to mass production of planes. Commercial airlines were also created, resulting in the need to build larger, stronger planes. The airplane industry “took off,” (ha, get it?) during that time, so that I can now travel across the country in a few hours.
And Wilbur missed all of this. Over the years, Orville could look up in the sky, see a plane flying overhead, and think, “We made that happen.” After dedicating countless hours to create an aircraft that could fly successfully, Wilbur didn’t live to see the fruits of his labor.
In Hebrews 11, which I was told is considered the “Hall of Faith” in the Bible, we are told of dozens of biblical pioneers who lived by faith everyday, but rarely reaped the fruits of it.
We learn of Abel, who was killed by his jealous brother Cain: “And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead” (Heb. 11:4).
We read of Noah, Abraham, David, Samuel, Rahab, Joseph, and many others, but their lives are summed up in a simple phrase: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth” (Heb. 11:13).
In a time where we want instant gratification from our education, careers, charities, ministries, families, and social circles, we have to face the reality that we might never see the end product. We may never see the impact our work has. You may be working will all your might to make things happen, but you are still waiting, as if God is telling you, “Not now.”
What is the “Not now” subject in your life right now?