How can someone change your life, when you don’t even know his name? That is the way I felt after reading about Ray Tomlinson. Mr. Tomlinson is ranked number four on the MIT list of top 150 innovators and ideas from MIT. He changed the lives of everyone I know. Mr. Tomlinson died this past March, and apparently his passing went unnoticed by most. Yet, Mr. Tomlinson impacted almost every person on the planet. In 1971 he used the @ symbol to design a program to send mail on the computer. Ray Tomlinson is credited with inventing email.
According to a 1998 profile in Forbes magazine, Tomlinson showed a colleague his invention and then, famously, said, “Don’t tell anyone! This isn’t what we’re supposed to be working on.” It is hard to imagine life today without Ray Tomlinson’s invention. Email has changed the business world and everyone’s personal lives. Every day 205 billion emails are sent to the 4.3 billion users on the planet. Before he died, Ray Tomlinson voiced his disappointment at the way his invention was being misused by so many to create spam and even criminal communications.
This is the moment in the blog post that I wish I could speak of Ray Tomlinson as a person of great faith. Mr. Tomlinson was married and had two children. He and his wife separated but never divorced. He is spoken of as a kind and generous person, but I couldn’t find an article that mentioned his beliefs. He was thoughtful and hardworking, still an employee at Raytheon when he died at the age of 71.
I wish I could thank Ray Tomlinson for the contribution he has made to ministry. This blog post arrived on your computer because of Ray Tomlinson’s invention. It is hard to imagine how our ministry could exist if we were limited, once again, to sending messages via a stamped envelope and the postal system. I am grateful for Ray Tomlinson’s invention because it has given us, and many other ministries, the ability to communicate God’s word around the world.
I ran across a biography and it made me think: Ray Tomlinson is credited with one of the most significant inventions of our time, but how many of the 4.3 billion users of email have ever considered being grateful to him for the way their lives have been changed? I think the word “users” is appropriate on a number of levels. People gladly “use” his creation without ever taking the time to be thankful for its creator. Ray Tomlinson impacted my life, and I never once thought about saying “thank you.”
What is it about human nature that causes us to be users, but not feel the need to say thank you? There isn’t a moment of the day that we breathe, communicate, live, laugh and love that isn’t the result of our Creator’s goodness. Yet, how many times a day to we pause to say “thank you” to the most significant Inventor that will ever exist? Here are a few verses to help all of us remember to be grateful today for our Creator and the lives we are blessed with:
Each of us makes a daily Kingdom contribution. Who will receive an email today that will benefit his or her life? Who will receive a word of encouragement or a thoughtful prayer on their computer? I’m grateful to Ray Tomlinson for giving us the ability to share God and his word easily via an email. But there is a verse that is a reminder to each of us. This is the way you and I can say thank you to God today, the Creator of all we have, the One who makes all things possible:
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