On September 7, 2018 news agencies around the world reported the story of an emergency that took place in space. The Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, which was docked to the International Space Station was losing cabin pressure at an alarming rate. Since it was connected to the ISS, this meant that its air was leaking into space as well. Once NASA informed the combined crews of the situation, they scrambled through the Soyuz spacecraft to locate the leak.
One of the astronauts was Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency. He discovered the source of the leak—a 2-millimeter wide hole. At first the crew believed a small meteorite or a piece of space junk had struck the spacecraft. Further investigation, however, has concluded that the hole originated on earth—either during the spacecraft’s manufacture or set up.
But how does one deal with a hole that is allowing life–giving oxygen to escape into space? Does he or she cite protocol or turn to “battle drills” as specified in a manual? Does he or she wait for guidance from the ground–based mission control? Or does he or she look for the technical expert on spacecraft–leaks or, conversely, dump the problem on the junior member of the crew?
Well, since Gerst was the “first responder,” he found his own solution. He placed the pinky finger of his left hand over the hole—and held it there. Of course, NASA experts on the ground grumbled, “I don’t think that’s the best remedy for it.” But that’s the remedy Gerst used—until the other astronauts found some “industrial space tape” to plug the hole. The story is reminiscent of the folklore about the little Dutch boy who saved the day by plugging a leaking dike with his finger—and finally his whole arm. That, of course, was not “the best remedy” for a leaking dike. But it was only one available.
Solving a Problem
You know, the experts are always passing judgment on the solutions that other people come up with. Back in the summer of 2017, a Toronto man was castigated by city officials for acting on his own to resolve a local problem. There were no stairs linking the Tom Riley Community Park with the adjacent parking. The parking lot was about ten feet higher than the park and people only had a steep, rocky path to use to travel from one to the other. Many people had complained to the city, requesting the installment of some stairs. But the city council balked, claiming that such stairs would cost the city between $65,000–$150,000.
After some significant time expired–and a few painful falls–one man found his own solution. A retired mechanic, Adi Astl, purchased $550–worth of treated lumber and constructed a functional stairway for the benefit of the park visitors. Residents hailed the effort. But city councilmen condemned it “unsafe” and immediately wanted to tear it down. In the end, Adi Astl’s effort motivated city officials to do their job. They did tear down Adi’s “unsatisfactory solution”—but only to replace it with a concrete and steel stairway with hand rails. And guess what? It didn’t cost the city $150,000. It only cost them $10,000.
You know, the Tabernacle in the wilderness wasn’t a perfect solution. It was only meant to be a temporary for a place for God to dwell among the Israelites (Exodus 25:8). And it was shabby compared to the perfect solution that Solomon built (1 Kings 6–8). Yet, even Solomon’s Temple was not perfect, for it was defiled and destroyed. And it was only figurative of something greater to come—the Temple of God which is made of redeemed human beings (Ephesians 2:19–22). Yet God was the author of all of them and they all served their purpose.
Maybe your solution to a neglected problem isn’t the best one. But if it’s the only one, then you’ve nothing to feel bad about when others criticize your efforts. And if your “unsatisfactory solution” succeeds in generating a proper one, then you’ve played an important role in fixing the problem. So be bold and be a blessing.
Dear Father in heaven, in my weak and imperfect way help me to be blessing to other people and to always be part of the solution. I know others will follow me with better ideas. But until they arrive with their superior skills and wisdom, use me as Your instrument of peace and help to the problems around me. Amen.