"One Giant Leap"

"One Giant Leap" for the Church (Part 1)

MEN Walk on Moon" world headlines, July 21, 1969.1 Mankind's historic achievement superbly demonstrates ancient success principles described to the church. Herein lies a message for us who face the 1970's with an infinitely more important goal than a lunar walk. . .

MEN Walk on Moon" world headlines, July 21, 1969.1 Mankind's historic achievement superbly demonstrates ancient success principles described to the church. Herein lies a message for us who face the 1970's with an infinitely more important goal than a lunar walk.

Countdown Begins and Ends

"No magic button was pressed or switch flipped. A master clock in the control room near the launching pad simply began ticking down from 93 hours, ticking toward the scheduled lift-off at 9:32 A.M."" For Apollo 11 the time of the end had begun. Everyone believed it and acted accordingly. No noisy fanfare accompanied this momentous commitment, rather, a dedicated enthusiasm spurred rigorous final preparations. This beginning is reminiscent of a greater moment in history.

Countdown for God's church began in 1798 when the time of the end, appointed in Daniel 7, 11, 12 and Revelation 12 and 13, arrived on heaven's master prophetic clock. Unlike the moon mission's count down, which terminated exactly according to schedule, divine countdown has entered its 172d year of ticking. Decades ago the church passed the original moment scheduled for departure. Ellen White explains why: "Had Adventists, after the great dis appointment in 1844, held fast their faith and followed on unitedly in the opening providence of God .. . the work would have been completed, and Christ would have come ere this to receive His people to their reward." Evangelism, p. 695.

How to fulfill these essential conditions is the burning question for the Christian. Apollo 11 suggests that the first step should be a deep realization that one is actually living in countdown time.

Enthusiastic Expectation

"The excitement doesn't have to be talked about it's in the air."3

"The moon vehicle . . . was the center of attention for nearly a million people who were crowding the towns and beaches surrounding the space center." 4

Such enthusiasm stemmed from a strong belief in the imminence of lift-off. Because countdown had begun, sightseers believed that blast-off was near.

This example of prelift-off expectation can stimulate us to re-examine the evidence for our faith in the soon return of Christ. We will then be "looking for that blessed hope," with an eagerness shown by the nearly one million people at Cape Kennedy.

Rigorous Final Preparations

When countdown began, nothing was assumed to be in proper condition. AH systems were subjected to the following scrutiny, "Controllers began ... a series of computerized checkouts of the complex machinery." 5

Dare the Christian dodge this mission success principle? His prayer should be, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me" (Ps. 139: 23, 24). Here, David pleaded for a divine omniscient checkout--amazing courage.

Semiquarantine Living

"The three men are living in semiquarantine at the crew quarters as a precaution against their catching colds or other illnesses that might delay the mission."6

This remarkable NASA precaution parallels similar Biblical instruction, "Pure religion ... is ... to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). We who must evade the contagion of sin to avoid a mission delay, cannot expect immunity while adopting a standard short of that used by NASA. However, Jesus did not advise total withdrawal from the world; He taught against needless exposure, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil" (John 17:15).

Short Hold Period

"Although the countdown will run 93 hours, there are more than 40 hours when the clock will temporarily be stopped to give launching crews a chance to rest or to do catch-up work."'

The church has also been granted a hold period. The angels of Revelation 7 have mercifully stopped the clock seconds be fore lift-off to give us "catch-up" time. Hallelujah for this "hold"! However, no one knows how long the hands on the heavenly clock will remain motionless, because "He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth" (Rom. 9:28).

In view of this divinely ordained respite, it is vital that Christ's pledge recorded in John 9:4 inspire corresponding resolve in hearts now, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work."

Thorough Knowledge of Flight Plan

Shortly before blast-off the astronauts were asked, "What do the three men who are about to go to the moon . . . do with a day off?" 8 Commander Neil A. Armstrong replied, "Well, I plan to ... read the flight plan again." 9

Amusing yet serious, this assertion shows that Armstrong was determined to avoid disaster due to a lack of knowledge. The prophet Hosea warns of this danger, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6) the knowledge of God and of spiritual truth. Only close study of every detail of the eighty-eight-step10 flight plan prepared Armstrong for the flight readiness exam and the taxing voyage itself.11

The possession of such knowledge by the commander reminds one of the children of Issachar who "had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do" (1 Chron. 12:32). Like Armstrong and the Bereans, these persons, no doubt, read their "flight plan" daily, which enabled them to pass any "flight readiness exam." Peter urges each Christian to experience similar preparation, "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15).

Complete Trust and Willing Total Commitment

Prior to lift-off Armstrong said, "We're willing and ready to attempt to achieve our national goal." 12 This example of self-sacrificing total commitment, similar to Isaiah's "Here am I; send me" (Isa. 6:8), yields the principal spiritual contributions of the flight.

In full view of the high mortal risk involved, these intrepid men willingly left their most precious possessions, possibly never to see them again. Unlike Peter, they actually were prepared to die for their mission.

Behind this willing commitment lay complete confidence in NASA's men, aims, and hardware. Because of this trust the astronauts readily placed their lives in the care of Mission Control and the Saturn 5 rocket.

Jesus honored a similar kind of dedication with these words, "Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life" (Matt. 19:29). It remains for us, through God's energizing power, to willingly duplicate these attitudes and commitment toward God, His mission, men, and organization.

Filled With Proper Fuel

"Technicians worked through the night pumping fuel into the Saturn 5 rocket."13 What this fuel was to Apollo 11, the power of the Holy Spirit is to the Christian. The follower of Christ needs to be filled with precious living propellant. Paul so teaches in these texts: "And be not drunk with wine, . . . but be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18). "Be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man" (Eph. 3: 16). "Be filled with all the fullness of God" (verse 19). Picture a giant Saturn 5 rocket ship poised for lift-off, everything in readiness except for one major detail empty fuel tanks. This hopeless situation illustrates the plight of the Christian void of the indwelling Spirit of God.

Jesus taught that such filling comes in response to our sincere, consistent request, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13). Such a simple method of filling dis solves all excuses to remain empty.

Distributed Power Lifts Apollo 11

The first stage of the moon rocket was powered by a propulsion system known as "cluster's last stand."14 It is described as "the grouping of several smaller rockets in a cluster to provide as much thrust as would a single, far larger rocket engine. Saturn 5's first stage, for example, uses five F-l engines, each generating 1,500,000 pounds of thrust." 15 Pound for pound, NASA obtained more work from a complex of five small engines than from one large engine of equal weight. This amazing principle of economical physical propulsion is analogous to a similar law of economical propulsion in the spiritual sphere.

God has consistently spoken through Ellen White of the advantage of many small working units in place of one large unit whatever the situation may be. Consequently, His counsel has been to strengthen the many rather than the one as the following representative quotation shows, "As a wise steward of means you should scatter your forces." Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 146. It is of interest to note that where the greatest lifting power was needed in the flight, NASA scientists prescribed what might be called the distributed power principle rather than the massing power principle.

(To be continued)

 

 


REFERENCES

 

1. "Men Walk on Moon," New Tork Times, July 21, 1969, p. 1.

2. John Noble Wilford. "Countdown Is On for Apollo Shot," Ibid., July 11, 1969, p. 12.

3. "Tourists Crowd Cocoa Beach as the Countdown Begins for the Apollo 11 Moon Voyage," ibid.

4. John Noble Wilford, "Countdown Goes 'Well' for Launching of the Eight-Day Voyage," ibid., July 16, 1969, p. 1.

5. _____, "Countdown Is On for Apollo Shot," ibid., July 11, 1969. p. 12.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. "Excerpts From the Astronauts' News Conference," ibid., July 15, 1969. p. 20.

9. Ibid.

10. "For Astronauts Aboard Apollo 11, There Are 88 Steps to the Moon and Back." ibid.. July 16. 1969, p. 23.

11. John Noble Wilford, "Live Television to Show First Foot Steps on Moon." ibid., June 17, 1969. p. 21.

12. _____, "Apollo Astronauts Are 'Willing and Ready,' " ibid., July 15, 1969, p. 1.

13. _____, "Countdown Goes 'Well' for Launching of the Eisht-Day Voyage." ibid., July 16, 1969. n. 22.

14. "Who Made It Possible" Time, July 18, 1969, p. 29.

15. Ibid.


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November 1970

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