In 2014, there were over 600,000 new patent applications submitted to the United States government. A perusal of these applications reveals some creative ideas but with closer scrutiny, many of these patents are for inventions that simply attempt to improve upon earlier inventions. It is the old adage of “building a better mousetrap.”
In fact, the more one looks at “new ideas”, there is a sense that there are very few original ideas. When innovation takes place, it often occurs by applying one successful idea in another, seemingly unrelated, context. One well-known, but instructive, example is the invention of the microwave oven. While working at a radar station, an engineer at Raytheon, Perry Spencer, noted his candy bar in his shirt pocket had melted. He correctly surmised that the microwaves emitted from the radar caused it. That discovery prompted him to wonder if the microwaves could be harnessed to cook food. The result is our microwave oven.
Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.
Ecclesiastes 1:10 (ESV)
When Solomon wrote this passage thousands of years ago, he may have been lamenting this same idea. He had amassed greater knowledge and information than anyone who had previously lived. And yet, at the end of his life, he bemoaned the lack of truly new ideas. The only answer to his searching was to fear God and obey His commandments.
How can this free us and lead to original ideas? When we recognize that God is the source of all ideas and He is the inspiration behind innovation, we stop trying and start obeying. When we confront a situation or problem that requires thinking “outside the box”, place yourself inside of God’s control and ask Him to resolve the problem. The Bible is replete with examples of original solutions that God provided to anyone who humbled himself before Him. Just ask Gabriel, Ruth, Esther...completely original and novel ways by which God used these saints to accomplish His purpose.
There are many more examples in the Bible. And there are millions of stories that believers, through the centuries, could share. God will provide the most innovative and original ideas to glorify Him!
All we need to do is obey.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.