Houston, We’ve Got A Problem…..

I got all inspired writing about Yuri Gagarin and Frank Borman and all the space stuff last night, and frankly, I used to be quite interested in space. Especially when I was younger, around the time of the first space flight that I talked about yesterday. I always thought that I would love to be an astronaut, and when the Mercury astronauts, the original 7, were chosen, I was very excited. Of course, the U.S. was behind in the space race, and there was a tremendous sense of national pride in catching up to the Russians. Alan Shepherd became the first American in space, and I remember my Dad waking me early in the morning, when all the flights were scheduled for lift-off, and sitting in front of our black and white Magnavox TV, glued to the screen until I had to go to school.

I was disappointed if there was a delay in the launch sequence because I loved to see those spaceships lift off. I would watch Walter Cronkite on CBS and Frank McGee on ABC as they announced all that was going on with the astronauts, even down to what they ate for breakfast before their flights. They carried their portable air conditioning units to the rocket where they entered the “white room” and were then strapped into their capsule seats before the hatch was bolted shut. Does it sound like I got excited about this stuff? I couldn’t get enough!

My middle brother Doug didn’t care much, but I loved it, and Ken, our youngest brother was not born until August 16, 1960, so he was an infant when Shepherd went up into space. And I watched with unbelievable attention as Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, and eventually, Deke Slayton, followed Shepherd into space, in that order. All of them, true American heroes.

But tonight, the subject of my story is something probably more familiar to you than the Mercury Program, and that event was made famous by Tom Hanks in the movie Apollo 13. That’s right, you guessed it, April 13, 1970 was the date that Apollo 13 suffered an explosion in an oxygen tank on the way to the moon, with Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise on board. And those famous words, “Houston, we’ve got a problem” entered our popular vocabulary. And probably all of us in the modern world have seen the movie, so we know that all three astronauts made it safely home, even though Fred Haise did get pretty sick. I never get tired of that film, and Janet knows to alert me whenever she finds it is on TV. I absolutely love it!

I sometimes think about how helpless those astronauts felt as they were stranded in space, with a crippled craft, and oxygen venting out into space. I think I would have been terrified. And yet, by comparison, my troubles are small compared to those suffered by Apollo 13, and yet I get really upset when my plans get changed or are altered by things – even those beyond my control.

Take tonight, for example – I am still in NJ and getting ready to return to Indy in the morning, and I have two things that are driving me absolutely nuts. First, it is raining, with rain expected in the morning, and that means potential flight delays out of Newark. And all I can think about is the time I was stranded in Newark due to bad weather several trips ago, how my entire schedule was in upheaval. I have already created a scenario based on past experience that I am anticipating will be a problem in the morning. How dumb! And the second thing is even more idiotic – Janet and I are trying to plan a trip, and it is my preference to leave a day earlier than we had planned when I reserved flights yesterday. However, the airfare has gone up today, and I refuse to pay hundreds of dollars more for one additional day – but I am really annoyed about it. In fact, I called the airline to complain, not that it did me any good. And by the way, notice how both issues have to do with flight! No wonder I am still thinking about space!

Why can’t I just relax and let God handle this stuff? I am healthy, married to a great partner, fortunate to be working and loving what I do. But life isn’t perfect, and sometimes I just have to chill out a little. It’s not like I’m halfway to the moon and the oxygen tank exploded! Let’s get a grip. So what should I do?

Perhaps I need to turn to the Scriptures and learn something from Christ. After all, when the disciples asked Him how to pray, he taught them what we call the Lord’s Prayer. And one line in particular stands out to me tonight – Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, just give me enough to sustain me today, and in fact, another verse, Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” How true!

So, my encouragement tonight is to let you know that God will take care of the tommorows in your life. You and I have enough to deal with today. And, beyond that, my prayer is that you will trust God to provide your daily bread. I think it is easy to forget that sometimes and we should trust in God for all our needs, today and tomorrow. If I could only learn that, and live by it….. In the meantime, Grace and Peace….we all need some of that…..


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