In 1981, three people got together at a restaurant and sketched out on a napkin an idea for an airplane. But it wasn’t just any airplane that Dick Rutan, his brother Burt, and Jeana Yeager had in mind. This one would be capable of doing what no plane had ever done before—fly around the world (approximately 25,000 miles) without refueling.
The Rutan Voyager hangs today in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Everything about its design and production was streamlined toward the goal of flying as far as possible on a single tank of fuel. The cockpit has room for only one person to sit so the co-pilot has to lie down. There are two huge fuselages that run parallel to the body of the plane. The wings are extra-long and hold fuel as well. In fact, the plane weighs a little over 2,000 pounds empty but when fully fueled it is close to 10,000 pounds. It is essentially a flying fuel tank with a top speed of only 125 mph.
On December 14, 1986 the plane sat on the runway at Edwards Air Force Base. There were 3,500 members of the media there to cover the takeoff. Everything was ready . . .
When Jesus speaks about not storing up treasures on this earth, He is challenging disciples to streamline their lives for the purposes of God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:19-21). He isn’t talking about not having the things that we need to have in order to live; He is talking about us accumulating a bunch of things that aren’t necessary to our existence—things that will distract, distort, and displace our focus on God.
He continues by talking about our spiritual eyes (v. 22-23). They are the entrance point of light and if they are healthy (i.e., clear), then our life will be full of powerful, illuminating truth. However, if our spiritual vision is cloudy or cluttered (as with a cataract), then darkness will have the upper hand. With this analogy, He’s shifted from something tangible and external (our possessions) to something intangible and internal (our spiritual eyes). But the point is still the same: when it comes to maintaining a spiritual focus, clutter is the enemy of clarity.
This text looks backward and forward. It looks backward to the beatitude: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (5:8). Those with pure hearts (i.e., uncluttered by being set on earthly treasures), will have no trouble seeing God. It looks forward to Jesus’ conclusion in 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all of these things will be given to you as well.”
These are words we need because most of us have lives that attract distractions the way a clean car attracts dirt. Maybe it’s that way because of our culture, our lifestyle, or a thousand other things. Who can say? But in the end it doesn’t matter where our distractions come from. What is important is that we learn the discipline of how to streamline and simplify our lives so they remain kingdom oriented.
The Rutan Voyager took off from Edwards Air Force Base that day in December of 1986. Nine days later it touched down having circled the earth without refueling. Amazing things can happen in aeronautics and in the kingdom of God when we implement streamlining!