Along with "Houston, we have a problem" the title of today's devotional is one of the most recognizable lines from a film in modern history. Thanks to a compelling story, some great effects and incredible acting, the story of Apollo 13's incredible survival in space is an iconic one. (A $52 million production budget and a large advertising budget didn't hurt, either.)
As for "Failure is NOT an option" - the motivational quote can be found on everything from books about success in writing, school, business and marriage to t-shirts, bumper stickers, window clings, flags and coffee cups. Even the Kennedy Space Center gift shop offers "Failure is NOT an option" items, including cooking aprons and oven mitts. The only problem is that Gene Kranz, the Flight Director for the mission, NEVER SAID IT.
What he actually said was, “I have never lost an American in space, sure as hell aren’t going to lose one now. This crew is coming home. You got to believe it. Your team must believe it. And we must make it happen.”
Kranz did what leaders do in tough situations. He took charge, he focused his team on the necessary objective, and he encouraged them to do what was necessary to accomplish the admittedly near-impossible goal.
God's purpose NEVER fails. He works through us (and even around us) to accomplish the purposes He has designed. We know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.
What would you undertake if you KNEW that you could not fail?
When you are pursuing God's purpose for your life and following His will, He will accomplish what He has called you to do.
There will be times that it appears impossible. Dark days and dark nights will test the mettle of your determination. Kranz was right, hell is sure. We have an enemy and he has a demonic hoard that will oppose us. We can never give in to our doubts and fears; but must always hold on to the promises of His word.
Believers in Christ have ONE MISSION. Together we are to go into all the world and make disciples of every nation, baptising them in the name of the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey Jesus. Kranz' team had one mission, too. "This crew is coming home."
To accomplish that singular mission every person on the team had to do a myriad of different jobs in various places. They had to cooperate with one another. Supporting one another was crucial. No one involved could think that they could accomplish the entire task. All worthwhile tasks are too large to be accomplished alone.
NASA's lessons apply to our mission. Our diversity is designed into our DNA. Believers are different from one another by divine design. We are not supposed to be exactly alike, talk exactly alike, worship exactly alike and pray exactly alike. He has called some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers. Their role,contrary to modern myth, is NOT to do all the work. Their function is to EQUIP US for the work of the ministry. The job of reaching the world with the message of the gospel and making disciples IS OURS.
You and me. We have a call. We have a mission. Like the team depicted in the movie, it may look as though we don't have what it takes to succeed with what is in our hands. But God will supply all our needs as we focus on the main mission He has set before us.
The very lives of others hang in the balance … for eternity. This isn't a movie. It's not dress rehearsal. It's the battle of the universe, and we are on the winning team. (I now because I cheated and read the end of the book. WE WIN!!)
So let's show up and do our part. If you don't know what your part is, find someone you trust who DOES seem to know what their part is and ask them to help you. The mission requires all hands on deck.
Kranz' words ring true. There are people Christ died to save, and Jesus says they are coming home. You've got to believe it, because our deeply-held beliefs shape our actions. Your team must believe it, whether your "team" is your church, your home group, your diocese or your communion.
And we must make it happen. Because failure truly is NOT an option.