The Biltmore, located in Asheville, North Carolina, was completed in 1895 with 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces and 3 kitchens on 4 acres of floor space.  The live-in cooks worked around the clock to feed the family, their guests and the more than 35 full-time workers, yet they kept only a few small shelves of canned foods on hand.  Almost all the food stored in the kitchens was non-canned food that spoiled quickly.  In the early 1900’s no one was buying canned foods.  Why? Because the can opener had not yet been invented.

When canned food was first invented in 1813, instructions on the cans read: “Cut around the top with a chisel and hammer.”  Though minor improvements were made to can opening devices over the years, the modern can opener with a serrated rotation wheel was not invented until 1925 – over 100 years after the birth of the metal can.  No one bought canned goods, not because the food was bad, but because there was no easy access to the food.  The food was fine; it was getting to the food that was the hard part.


Imagine the exponential increase in production and distribution of canned goods all over the world throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s had the can opener been invented.  How many more people would have bought canned foods had their simply been an easy way to open the cans?  How many more cans might have reached the poor, providing them with cheap food that didn’t spoil?  Yet year after year the world waited, without even knowing it, for someone to give them easy access to the food inside the cans.


Like the can opener, maybe the biggest barrier to spiritual growth is easy access to someone to show them how to do it!  The truth is the same; it’s getting to the truth that’s hard!  To me, it’s also the story the Christmas.  For thousands of years people followed the Law given through Moses – it was good for sin management, but it couldn’t give them easy access to God.  The law could point out and condemn sin, but it could not remove it.  The world waited for a savior.  We celebrate Christmas because Jesus’ birth, for the first time in history, created a way to have easy access to God.  Jesus told his disciples, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen my Father as well.”  The curious thing about Jesus was that he had to authority, he held no positions, he did nothing that usually accompanies success, yet he had the greatest influence of anyone who ever lived.  He mostly hung out with 12 guys for 3 years and today we celebrate him as the central figure of the human race – not because of what he did, but because of who he was.

I often forget that God is more concerned about who I am than what I do.  There’s something in me, and in probably most, that dreams of being the superhero, the all-star, the guy who saves the day, wins the prize, or galvanizes the masses.  But the people who have the most influence in your life often have the least Authority.  Easy access to those in your sphere of influence.  It’s great to have ambitions to one day reach the poorest kid in the smallest villages of Africa, but what am I doing today for the kid down the street?  How can I be his “can opener”?  I may be the only Bible someone ever reads.  The can opener is a reminder that family and friends truly are the greatest gifts in life, a reminder to cherish those quiet moments, and to be grateful that we have a savior that provided easy access to God.

“Despite efforts to keep Him out, God intrudes.  The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities:  a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb.  Jesus entered our world through a door marked ‘No Entrance’ and left through a door marked ‘No Exit’.” – Author Unknown