Sometimes, small things have big consequences. In 1998, the Mars Climate Orbiter was launched by NASA to study the climate on Mars. The ambitious mission to launch an unmanned space probe to Mars cost hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of people worked on the project. There was a lot at stake for all involved. On 23 September 1999, the Orbiter began the planned manoeuvre that would send it into its orbit of Mars. However, four minutes into completing this crucial manoeuvre, NASA lost communication with the Orbiter and it was never heard from again.
A later investigation found the cause of the problem. The flight system software on the Mars Climate Orbiter was written to take thrust instructions using the metric unit newtons (N), while the software on the ground that generated those instructions used the imperial measurement of pounds (PSI). Therefore, when each unit spoke to the other, too much thrust was given and the Orbiter flew too low and eventually burned up. It was a small mistake but it had a huge consequence.
In the Old Testament, we are introduced to Esau who knows this lesson all too well. Esau was the firstborn son of Isaac and the firstborn of a set of twins. The family’s birthright was his and he was set to inherit the family fortune one day. That is until he gave it all away too cheaply. Genesis Chapter 25 tells us that Esau was out hunting and came home hungry, so hungry that he felt like he was going to die. When he arrived home, he found his younger brother, Jacob, cooking a lentil stew. Esau pleaded with Jacob to give him some of the stew. Jacob saw an opportunity to get ahead in life and offered Esau a deal, saying, “First sell me your birthright”. Without much thought, Esau sold the riches of his birthright for a bowl of stew. This small event had huge consequences for Esau and his family. No longer would his family line be the bearer of God’s great promises to humanity. Esau had treated with flippancy something of immense worth.
The New Testament Book of Hebrews was written to people like Esau. People who are on the verge of treating with flippancy something of great worth; people who are in danger of giving up on Jesus. In Chapter 12, the author says:
16 “See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.”
Jesus is of unimaginable worth but sometimes we are willing to discard him flippantly and cheaply. We might discard him for the cheap thrill of sin or to protect our pride or to keep up appearances. It might feel good and satisfy us for now, but that feeling never lasts. It is shallow. Jesus offers us more. Jesus offers us something of unimaginable worth – life with Him. Do not let go of Him cheaply; fight tooth and nail to rediscover His beauty.