The first TV Dennis and I ever bought in early marriage was really state-of-the-art at the time. It was color, had an on-and-off button instead of a knob, and it weighed a ton. No remote control, of course. We changed the channels by getting up, walking to the set and turning the dial to the desired channel, which wasn’t so bad. There were only three channels to choose from.
Later as the set got older, we found we had to do more and more adjusting to get a clear image. The vertical hold wouldn’t hold so well and sometimes the picture would roll bottom to top like an ocean wave. On the back of the set, there were half dozen knobs that we could use to adjust the picture. One was labeled “fine tune”. We didn’t know what that meant but it seemed to even out the squiggly lines and rolling waves when we turned it. If that didn’t help, then we might try adjusting the antenna (rabbit ears) that sat on the top of the set. Sometimes we even tried applying aluminum foil on the rabbit ears to “enhance” the signal.
About the time we finally got cable (so we got ten channels instead of three) the fine tune knob quit fine-tuning at all and we couldn’t blame the antenna anymore when the picture went wonky. We started to just toss the TV and get a new one. But in a moment of desperation Dennis found a “sweet spot” on the top of the TV cabinet that when hit at the precise force with the fist would straighten that picture and render the set useable for yet another few months. Applied pressure for fine-tuning.
Fine-tuning is not just a TV term, I’ve learned. It relates really to any adjustment that brings about a higher level of performance in anything. To fine-tune a human or animal skill takes practice. To fine-tune a car engine takes adjustments made by a skilled mechanic – who has fine-tuned his skill with education and practice. Honing. Refining. Tweaking. Polishing.
A couple of weeks ago we watched a TV interview that had been filmed in 1995 with the late Apple founder Steve Jobs. The producers of the original interview that aired years ago thought the whole unedited master tape had been lost. Somebody found a VHS copy of it in his garage and put it out for viewing. We found it on Netflix.
It was amazing to hear the insights of this genius, a child prodigy, who didn’t invent the computer but honed it and its ancillary devices into what we find essential for life today. Steve recalls a time as a child watching a neighbor use a rock tumbler in his garage. Jobs said that the old man picked up some ordinary stones from his backyard and put them in the tumbler, turned on the motor and left them tumbling overnight. The old man asked the young boy to come back the next morning and see the results. Morning came and little Steve ran over to the old man’s garage to find that those ordinary, coarse rocks had become beautiful smooth gems. Steve Jobs learned, he said, about friction and stress and how it can transform something from ignorable to spectacular – a lesson he applied to his management style at Apple. Though Steve Jobs was far from a believer he understood the process (implied in scripture) through which we must go to be honed down, made better, refined into something not only usable but beautiful.
In this season of our lives Dennis and I are looking back at the rough and tumble of experiences, stress and friction of tough times, and wondering how it can all make sense and even more how these experiences can be used to serve God.
I like what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
So from King Solomon to the late Mr. Jobs to the old TV with the “Whack A Mole” fine-tune feature, we’ve learned and feel confident that God has let us go through hard-knocks, bruises and bumps, because He has a new plan for us. Don’t know what that is yet but we know it’ll be a gem!