The cold, yucky weather this winter has kept our family indoors for much of the past few weeks. But on the bright side, the rain and chill does provide us perfect opportunities to pile on the couch and watch a favorite movie together as a family. When it’s my turn to choose, Apollo 13 often comes to the top of my “Re-watch” list. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the 1995 film starring Tom Hanks that chronicles the true story of the NASA astronauts who were forced to improvise a strategy to get back to earth after their spacecraft suffered a catastrophic failure. Besides being a child of the 1960’s and still somewhat of a space fanatic, I love it not only for the real life story of overcoming obstacles, but because it gives believers in Jesus an important reminder for traveling through this life.
Think about it for a minute. Most of us have a plan in mind for how we want our lives to go. Maybe it’s a goal, a dream or even a clear vision or call from God. We start off with a solid trajectory in mind, but then just as suddenly and unexpectedly as the blown oxygen tank on the Apollo 13 spacecraft, something goes wrong. Red lights start flashing, master alarms sound and in an instant, everything changes. The ‘disaster’ in front of you alters the plan, and all the previous priorities and goals take a back seat to what’s happening right now.
The only thing you can think is “Houston, we have a problem.”
It’s in moments like these that our real reliance on God is tested. Will our confidence in His sovereignty and power govern our actions? Or in fear, will we take matters into our own hands and trust our flawed ability to make things work out the way we want?
We will always face situations that seem out of our hands, but the repeated reminder from scripture is that we never face them alone. “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you,” says the Deuteronomy 31:8. And Psalm 46:1 assures us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. Whatever crisis you face, God is aware of it and hasn’t abandoned you. And with that in mind, He asks you to lean on Him for guidance
The familiar words of Proverbs 3:5-6 beckon you to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” And ‘straight’ in this context doesn’t mean carefree or easy.. A better way to think about it might be that our unflinching trust in God makes our path direct.. of course, where we go and how we get there is still up to Him.
You know, if you go back to the story of Apollo 13, they never did accomplish their original mission of landing on the moon, but it was ultimately still classified a “successful failure.” That’s mainly because the entire NASA team was able to set aside their previous goal and refocus their energy solely on the new objective of bringing those three astronauts back safely to earth.
Sometimes ‘success’ in our world requires that we do exactly the same thing. When a crisis erupts that defies our understanding, we need to work through the emotional loss of our previous plan and trust God to guide us to accomplish (what our perspective seems from to be) a completely altered goal. While we may never complete the mission as we originally conceived it, we can be assured that with Jesus, we will always arrive safely home.