He began traveling at the age of 15 as an itinerant telegrapher, later moving to Louisville, Kentucky, to work for the Associated Press. He returned home in 1868, at the age of 21, to find that “his beloved mother was falling into mental illness and his father was out of work. The family was almost destitute. Edison realized he needed to take control of his future.” At the suggestion of a friend, Edison moved to Boston to work for the Western Union. Boston at the time was a center of American culture and technology, which further stoked the fires of creativity in Edison. It was there that he began his string of amazing inventions, although this first one, a vote-tabulating machine, was not well received by politicians. In 1869, he moved to New York City and produced his first successful invention, an improved stock ticker machine that was well received and netted him $40,000 for the rights to the machine. With this money, he quit his job as a telegrapher and devoted himself full-time to developing inventions, setting up his first fully functioning laboratory in Newark, New Jersey. With his ever greater reputation as an inventor and his burgeoning financial success, “In 1876, he moved his expanding operations to Menlo Park, New Jersey, and built an independent industrial research facility incorporating machine shops and laboratories.”
Looking at his life, it would be easy to just say that he was another American success story, benefiting from the industrial and technological boom that our country was going through at the time. But such an interpretation would miss the mark. His early years were very challenging, with his own health problems, his hyperactivity, him being the last child in a very large family, and his own family’s financial issues. But despite the early challenges, he continued to believe in himself and his dreams, and he continued to work hard at everything that he did. Moreover, from his early years of home-schooling and self-education, he developed a life-long habit of learning, keeping a great hunger to always know more, to constantly seek out new information and new ways of doing things, ever willing to change and adapt.
Such stories should be an inspiration to all people of the great possibilities within each human being. Within each person, God has placed tremendous capabilities to overcome challenges and to be successful in our own unique way. I believe every human life has some potential to influence the world, some of us having a little more than the rest. But the power of the human will is an amazing thing, when it is set on a goal. Also, when you have confidence in your dreams and are willing to work hard, there are so many things that you can accomplish that you would never believe that you could. Perhaps most importantly, though, if you have God on your side, you can do most anything. Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I pray that you would be filled with His strength and courage to dare great things.
What do you consider to be your greatest triumph in life? What obstacles did you have to overcome?