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Nature’s Velcro

They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.  And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us.  It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.  However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large.  And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there.”  Numbers 13:26-28 (ESV)

In 1968, Puma became the first major show company to offer a pair of trainers/sneakers with Velcro fasteners.  Other companies caught on and by the 1980s, many children seemed to own at least one pair of those three-strap Velcro wonders.  I, for one, am so grateful for this product.  Velcro is a brainchild of Georges De Mestral, a Swiss engineer who, in 1941, went for a walk in the woods on a lovely summer’s day and was struck by the tenacity with which burrs clung to the hair of his dog and the wool of his socks.  He wondered if the burrs which clung to his trousers – and dog – could be turned into something useful.  Under a microscope, he found at work the hook-and-loop principle on which Velcro is based.  After nearly eight years of research (apparently, its not so easy to make a synthetic burr), de Mestral successfully reproduced the natural attachment with two strips of fabric, one with thousands of tiny hooks and another with thousands of tiny loops.  He named his invention Velcro, a combination of the first syllables of velvet and crochet.  The latter word is French for ‘hook’.  While the invention was a success, it didn’t really take off until the 1960s, when NASA’s extensive use of Velcro in space came to the public’s attention.  Since then, the hook and loop fastener has stuck with us, and its popularity shows no sign of ever falling off.

Like Georges de Mestral, I too had many walks in the countryside with my dog, a West-highland terrier, and the same type of burrs had also stuck to my dog’s coat.  However, I looked on it as a nuisance as I painstakingly had to pick each burr off by hand.  Isn’t it interesting how we can see things differently?  What do you see that others don’t?

The Bible often asks the question, “What do you see?”  I have always enjoyed the story of Moses sending the twelve spies from the twelve tribes of Israel when they were on the verge of entering the Land of Canaan.  The Bible states that when they returned, they reported to Moses.  They all saw the grapes which represented the potential and prosperity of the land.  They also saw giants which represented problems!  Since the Amalekites, who were the giants of the land, were spread out throughout the entire region, ten of the spies saw themselves as grasshoppers:

“We were in our own sight as grasshoppers…”  Numbers 13:33 (WEB)

However, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, saw God at work.  They said:

“If the Lord delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.”  Numbers 14:8 (ESV)

They all saw the grapes and giants.  But only two saw God at work.  What do you see that others don’t?  Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible.