And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
Houston…we have a problem. Those famous words…or something similar to that effect were first uttered 50 years ago during the Apollo 13 mission. They are used today whenever there is a problem that needs to be addressed. As an example, my wife Judy is “glamping” down at the Land Between the Lakes this week. She pulled out her tennis shoes this morning to realize not only did they not match…they were both for her left foot. She texted me with a picture and the words, “Houston, we have a problem.” I laughed, but fifty years ago there was no one laughing.
Apollo 13 was only the third trip to the moon—only the third—but amazingly in that short span of time public interest in the moon missions had dropped to virtually zero. The launch was a minor story and the news conference from space wasn’t even carried by the networks. We humans are a fickle bunch. It is amazing how quickly the extraordinary becomes ordinary…the unbelievable garners a yawn. That was not only true when we were shooting repeat trips to the moon but also when we worship the God who made the moon. We yawn our way through everyday miracles because, well, they are everyday. And then something happens that shakes our world.
In the case of Apollo 13 the crew was asked to do a routine stirring of the oxygen tanks. Certainly no big deal. The task fell to the rookie on the team and he flipped the switch to stir the tanks and what happened next was anything but routine. There was a massive explosion in a couple of the oxygen tanks which placed the crew’s life in grave danger. The crew commander instantly snapped at the rookie, “What did you do?” His first assumption was that it was the rookie’s fault. In reality it was no one person’s fault. There was some faulty wiring in the tank and whoever flipped the switch was going to have the same result—BOOM.
Our routine was certainly disrupted as this COVID virus rocketed around the world. At the speed of space it spread from country to country—person to person. Almost as quick, the finger pointing and jabbing started and hasn’t even began to slow down. From presidents to pastors to everyday people, everyone is looking for someone to blame. The first performance of blaming began in the garden with a couple of rookie sinners and it has never stopped. I bet that grieves God—a lot.
Well, things were bleak for Apollo 13 as the explosion damaged the spacecraft to the point where they could possibly die. This was a good news/bad news deal. First the bad news—they were blown way off course and only a miracle would get them back on track. That happens in times like these. Our whole world revolves around one thing—the COVID virus. Concern is a good thing—obsession is a dangerous thing. The only thing worth obsessing over is the One who can do something about it.
Now, the good news—when word began to spread of their catastrophe in space all of a sudden concern and interest spiked. In a moment of time, driven by drama and danger, the national interest once again spiked. Spacemen were once again newsworthy. People were once again tuned in and hungry for a miracle—the crew’s survival. I wonder, I hope that there will be good news for us one day too. I hope that news will be that we once again are focusing on the things that really matter!
There’s a lot more to this story that I would like to share with you tomorrow if you will tune back in. They say that those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it. I wonder how we will do with that…only time will tell. It seems that these times are like quicksand—our vocabulary dominated by iffy words like fearful, uncertainty and bleakness. That is why I am so glad that there is a God who is watching over and working for and through this. Somehow, someway He is going to bring good from this. If we let Him, He will make us stronger through this. If that is going to happen then we have to let Him be God. Sounds like a plan to me. Let’s do the old two step—rest in Him—He’s got this. See you tomorrow for part two.