Art teachers depend on it . . . Kids love making things with it . . . Carpenters swear by it . . .
I’m talking about Elmer’s Glue, a cornerstone product of Borden, Inc. which also developed Krazy Glue. As difficult as it may be to imagine life without these adhesives, there’s a fascinating story behind one of the sons of the company’s namesake, inventor Gail Borden, Jr.. But first some background.
In 1857, Gail invented condensed milk. During the Civil War, Gail watched his sales soar as the Union armies used his product in the field. About the time of World War II, he pioneered instant coffee, non-dairy creamer, and a variety of powdered foods that wouldn’t spoil without refrigeration. In time, the company he founded was worth millions. Along the way, he gave birth to several children.
I’ll zero in on William Borden. Considering the size of the family fortune, William was a millionaire the moment he was born. He was set for life. As the company grew, so did his earthly fortunes. Upon graduation from high school, his parents desired to give him a gift. One problem. What do you give a kid who already has everything? They decided a trip around the world would be the ticket.
Off he went.
As William made his way through Africa, Asia, and parts of the Middle East, he was deeply moved by the face of poverty, hunger, and neglect he witnessed first hand. At one point, William wrote home with a startling announcement: “I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.”
No longer content to take the reigns of his family business, or spoil himself in the family fortune, he set his mind on becoming a missionary. Taking his Bible, he turned to the back and wrote down two words:
His parents, understandably, were puzzled by this sudden change in their son. Yet no matter what they said, they failed to convince him to reconsider. Nor was this a passing phase. William graduated from Yale University and, turning down a position in the family firm, he then headed to Princeton Theological Seminary.
After completing his studies, 25-year-old William decided to give his life to reaching the Muslims of China with the Good News of Jesus. However, on the way to China he decided to stop in Egypt long enough to learn Arabic. On the way to Egypt, he added two more words to his Bible:
For William, there would be no u-turn.
While studying in Egypt, tragedy struck. He fell ill with cerebral meningitis and was dead within a month. If you were to say William had wasted his life, his future, and his shot at an amazing fortune, you’d be echoing the feelings of many of his friends – including his parents. When his personal belongings were returned home, however, that assessment wasn’t shared by young William. His parents discovered that he had penned two final words:
No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.
What a way to live life!
When I first read William’s story, I was struck by a new thought. I meet people everyday who will “read” my life that may never read the Bible. As they see my life in action, my priorities, and my convictions, what will they learn? Is there anything about my life that might inspire them to consider Christ?
Furthermore, do I live with no reserves? Or do I place limits on what God may want to do with my story? Am I retreating from my convictions? Or do I stand my ground even when holding the minority view? When I draw my final breath, will there be regrets about the path I took to follow Jesus? Or, will I say confidently, “To live is Christ and to die is gain”?
Put another way, is there anything in life that’s worth dying for? If so, perhaps it’s time you and I pulled out all of the stops and start living with the passion of William Borden. Then leave the results up to God.
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