44 years ago today...
Thousands of eyes watched the clock as the seconds counted down.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1...
A deafening roar shook the ground while a brilliant light illuminated the launchpad. All heads had turned upward to watch the fireball vanish into a mere speck, and then disappear from sight altogether.
And that vanishing speck? The Apollo 13-- headed for the backside of the moon, where no man had been before.
Only sixty years before, we still had no idea how to fly. The Wright brothers were looking admiringly at the birds, and longing to know their secret.
Now, a mere six decades later, we had been to the moon twice, and were launching this mission which was far more complex than any before it.
Somehow, back then, we were not content with one accomplishment, but were constantly aiming higher-- going deeper.
NASA had been spurred on a few years before by the inspiring challenge of President Kennedy...
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard... because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win...
We were determined-- and to that end we bent our earnest efforts day and night. And true to our pledge, before the decade was over, we had landed a man on the moon.
Now we were in reach of another goal... to land two men in the mountains on the backside of the moon and bring them home alive.
Actually, Apollo 13 did not quite go as planned. An explosion onboard the ship destroyed 2/3 of their oxygen, which majorly depreciated the power supply. The moon was no longer the goal, but the saving of the three men stranded in space.
Mission control now had a challenge greater than any Kennedy had given to them. The crew which was currently 200,000 miles from earth must be brought home with only 1/3 of their oxygen and next to no power to run the ship...This was to be the most technically difficult feat NASA had ever attempted.
But the crew on the ground determined that failure was not an option. The men would be saved-- even if they had to use every last ounce of their strength for it.
After four days of extremely intense work for the ground crew and the men in space, Apollo 13 and crew splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean.
NASA had completed their greatest feat of all time.
And how did we go from the nation who had no clue how to fly, to the first to land men on the moon and bring them home safely after a terrible explosion in space?
We accepted a challenge to do hard things. We threw our heart and soul into the work. We labored night and day. We persevered. After each new victory or failure, we set higher goals and fought for them. We were willing to sacrifice, take risks-- to give our lives if necessary.
And something about NASA's thrilling escapades shakes me out of my "44 years ago today" reverie, and brings me back to the here and now.
We too have been given a challenge. Sure, we've not been called to go to other worlds, but instead to change this one that we call home. True, we've never had to bring three men home who were stranded 200,000 miles away, but we have been called to point lost souls to their eternal home. Yes, there is no need for hours spent in mission control, but oh, the desperate need for hours of time spent in the closet of prayer.
Somehow we look at our challenge as less glamorous. After all, our fathers had the same challenge, and our grandfathers, and our great-grandfathers...
And so we search for something better-- while the world dies for a revelation of Jesus.
Perhaps God is just waiting for a generation to pick up the baton and carry it to the end of the race. And perhaps we could be that generation...
Sure, a look in the mirror tells us that we are not good enough, old enough, experienced enough etc... Believe it or not, most of the men in mission control for the first missions were quite young-- and inexperienced.
And a look into mine own heart tells me that maybe it's not that we're too young or inexperienced. Maybe it's that our dedication does not go deep enough, our ambition high enough, or our trust strong enough.
Are we willing to throw our heart and soul into His work? To labor night and day? To persevere? To set new and higher goals after each victory or failure? To sacrifice? To give our lives if necessary?
He never said it would be easy... but that's okay because we accept His plans...
...not because they are easy, but because they are hard... because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win...
I'm longing for something deeper. And I'm determined to spend hours in my closet of prayer until I find it.
I believe this generation can be the one to accept His challenge and change the world.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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Hands Open. Heart Full.