Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lessons learned from Apollo 13

This weekend I was flipping through channels on the T.V. I chanced upon Apollo 13 and ended up crying my way through the entire program. I learned some really spiritual lessons from this little gem of a show and I’m going to share some of those here on my blog.

Obviously you all have either seen this movie or at least understand the premise but there were a few things that really struck me. I found so much of the Lord’s hand in what happened to Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Jack Swigert and even Ken Mattingly who had to be left behind. I felt to draw some parallels to my own life.

These men all of them worked for years to accomplish their dream of flying into space, which all had accomplished at the point of this mission. In addition to that they wanted to walk on the moon. They prepared and worked tirelessly before it was their turn to attempt this mission. They wanted nothing more in life than this.

There are blessings and desires that I have for my life that I want as much as Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks character) and crew wanted to walk on the moon. The first thing that struck me was that these men were prepared. They thought that they were prepared to accomplish a successful mission, and they were, but as much as they prepared for success, that preparation allowed them to weather disaster.

How often do I find that the preparations I have made for the goal or blessing I want ends up allowing me to weather the storms, or some might even say disasters that inevitably come before the realization of the blessing. In fact overcoming makes me stronger for the next mission which pattern will ultimately lead to gaining the righteous desires of my heart or successful completion of my “mission” in this life.

Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise’s character) is an original member of the team. He had been training with the team for years but days before they are to leave for this mission his dream is taken away since he has been exposed to measles and therefore can not go with his team. He’s upset and angry at these turn of events and we witness a little bit of the bitterness he feels at how this dream is turning out for him.

Why is this significant? Who reading this has not felt bitterness at a dream unrealized? In fact who hasn’t felt a little bitterness at just a strong want unrealized? Why is it so hard to trust God in all things? He has a plan for us, always……always.

Of course it turns out that the explosion on the shuttle leaves those in space with limited power to get home and procedures are needed to use what little power they have to power up so they can make it safely home. Who else but Mattingly would have such an intimate an extensive knowledge of the space craft and could have successfully created procedures. You could argue that the three stranded men would never have made it home without Mattingly on the ground to make it happen. God knew, just like he knows in my life what is needed? Why do I fail to trust? Out of all of the Astronauts that were supposed to go on the mission and did go on the mission only Mattingly ended up walking on the moon. While God needed his dream to be suspended for a time to help others he allowed it ultimately to be fulfilled. This just felt so significant to me.

At the end of the movie they go on to say that there were thousands of people working to get 3 home. These men were able to accomplish things by using the power of the collective that the men in space could never have done for themselves. Without the support team encouraging them, helping to solve problems behind the scenes and working together it’s a given that the 3 in space would have perished. What a testimony of how God always cares about the one. He has a great work to accomplish for all men but he never loses sight of the needs of each individual.

None of us can get home or accomplish our mission alone. There is always a huge cast of characters in each of our lives cheering us on and helping us along the way. Going back to Apollo 13, I think specifically of how Co2 levels were too high in the space craft. If these levels would have gone over safe levels the astronauts would have suffered from disorientation, loss of critical thinking and ultimately a slow form of brain damage. There chances of getting home would be significantly diminished. What was required if you will remember was to make a square filter fit into a round filters hole. The right people were there at the right time, with the right gifts and skills to figure out how in fact to fit a square peg into a round hole.

God knows what is needed in my life to bring me home as it were. He knows that I am going to have problems, trials and just flat out am going to need rescued. He will place the people and things in place for me and of course all of us to help us get back home.

I thought immediately about all the supporting cast of characters I have in my own life. My beloved family both immediate and extended along with amazing friends, those at church and in my neighborhood, parents of friends I grew up with and co-workers and how frequently there love, support, experiences and spiritual insights help me to fit the square pegs into the round holes of my life. How often their counsel and experiences keep me from getting disoriented and losing my direction. I know that they will all help me to get home.

I still have promised blessings and righteous desires for this life that have left to be realized. But I know that if I trust in God and keep moving forward trying to be as prepared as I can that he will put into place everything that is needed and they will be accomplished. I also know as surely as he brought 3 astronauts safely home from space, he has provided everything that I need so that I will arrive safely home to him when this life is over. For this I am truly grateful


lacy lee said...

You're right, this post is 6 pages! :) Just kidding! What a thoughtful post, sister. It made me think about some things... Love you!

Anonymous said...

You just wrote your next Sacrament Mtg. talk!!! I am so impressed with your insight and wisdom. I miss you and love you!

cs said...

What a beautiful, insightful post. The insights you share are hard lessons for us all, no matter what our circumstances. Deeply profound thinking, Linds. Thanks.

I was thinking about the movie after reading your post and had one other thought. Remember how the astronauts needed to conduct a 30 second burn of the main engines. And then were faced with how to steer? Jim Lovel determined that if they could keep a fixed point in space in view through their tiny window, they could steer the craft manually. Of course, that focal point turned out to be their destination –Earth.

So for 39 agonizing seconds. Lovell focused on keeping the earth in view and by not losing sight of that reference point, the 3 astronauts avoided disaster.

You can draw your own conclusions from that but a scripture comes to mind and in order to finish our life’s mission we each must fix our eyes on the Savior…”the author and finisher of our faith…” Hebrews 12:2