In 1953, Norm Larsen worked for the Rocket Chemical Company. He was a chemist working on a special formula that would prevent rust from forming on spaceships and missiles as they traveled through the upper atmosphere. His goal was to design a formula that would displace water so it would not damage the metal shell of the aircraft. He worked on his formula for months and months – and experienced failure after failure. Larsen made dozens of attempts to get his formula right, but each time he failed. Larsen knew he was on to something, and even after three dozen failed attempts, he kept working.
In 1957, another chemist named Morris Rouff worked for Gem Products. He was working on a powerful cleaner and degreaser to use in industrial and commercial settings with tough cleaning problems. Morris and his brothers Sam and Nathan made hundreds of attempts at creating a formula while working at Gem. They spent months making minor changes to the formula, but it never was quite right. Formula #1 failed. Formula #18 failed. Formulas #100, #200, and #300 (and everything in between) all failed. They failed over 400 times in their quest to perfect their cleaning product.
Eventually, Norm Larsen perfected his water displacement spray. It took 40 tries, but he finally got it right. Morris Rouff also perfected his all-purpose cleaning formula. After 408 formulas and 408 failures, he perfected his formula on the 409th attempt. Chances are good that somewhere in your home you have a can of “Water Displacement, 40th attempt,” better known as “WD-40”, or a spray bottle of “Formula #409,” usually called “409.”
Both Norm Larsen and Morris Rouff were persistent. Despite failures (and they had many!) they persisted. Sometimes, we want to give up after one attempt. Sometimes, we get tired of trying and trying. Often, we begin to become discouraged when we don’t see the results we want, when we don’t see the difference we’re making, or when we simply get tired of trying. In Galatians 6:9, the apostle Paul writes a quick word of encouragement about perseverance.
"So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up." Galatians 6:9
I like that phrase, “at just the right time.” Sometimes, we don’t get God’s blessings when we want them. Sometimes, we feel like that goal we’re working toward will never happen. Sometimes, we don’t see what difference we’re making. Our family isn’t growing closer, our walk with God isn’t improving, and others around me aren’t growing or finding God. Sometimes, we feel like we’ve made 408 attempts that all ended in disappointment. But God’s Word tells us that at just the right time, if we don’t give up, the blessing we receive from God will be enormous.
The next time you feel like quitting, think about that can of WD40 in your garage or the bottle of 409 in your kitchen, and remember that God’s blessings always show up at just the right time if we don’t give up.
Posted on Fri, June 15, 2012
by Steven Valadez