So how is today’s schedule working for you? Have you been doing what you want, when you want, and how you want? Are you meeting your deadlines? If so, you likely consider this a good day. Conversely, a bad day would be one filled with interruptions and things that weren’t even considered for the calendar.
And yet, some of God’s and life’s most wonderful gifts to us are the surprises that crop up in the day like an unexpected wildflower. Consider what happened on the Apollo 8 mission.
You probably know Apollo 11. On July 20, 1969, 50 years ago, one small step for man and a giant leap for mankind happened. Armstrong became the first man to step on to the surface of the moon.
But I want to direct your attention to Apollo 8. You may not remember the mission, but I guarantee you remember the photo.
On Christmas Eve, 1968, just a few months earlier, astronauts circled the moon with one main mission carved into their brains: take pictures of the moon. They circled the moon the first time, snapping away with the camera. They went around a second and third time. On the fourth time around, voice recorders captured the conversation as the astronauts suddenly sounded like tourists. Here’s their words as they look up from the moon.
“Oh, my —-,” says Borman, “look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth comin’ up. Wow, that is pretty!”
“Hey, don’t take that,” says Anders, “it’s not scheduled.”
Borman laughs. “You got a color film, Jim?”
Anders suddenly changes. “Hand me that roll of color quick, will you?”
“Oh, man, that’s great,” marvels Lovell, looking out the window.
“Hurry, quick,” says Anders.
“Take several of them! Here, give it to me,” says Lovell.
“Calm down, Lovell,” says Commander Borman, clearly finding the whole thing humorous.
And then they take a picture, one of the most famous photographs in the world. They capture the crescent earth rising over the surface of the moon. I know you’ve seen it.
I won’t bore you with the details, but philosophers and sociologists and historians write how that one picture changed so many things about how we view ourselves.
The poet Archibald MacLeish: “To see Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence as it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in that eternal cold.”
It took four trips around the moon before the earth was seen. For one brief moment an astronaut even argues they shouldn’t take the picture because it wasn’t planned. But they did. And everyone has benefited and been able to share the awe.
Don’t get me wrong. Schedules are good. Planning is important.
But never be too busy to see the beauty and the opportunities God places in your path.
Rick Cupp is minister at Kenai Fellowship. Sunday Bible classes for all ages are held at 10 a.m. Worship is held at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday meal is held at 6:15 p.m. Worship and classes are at 7 p.m.
• By RICK CUPP, For the Peninsula Clarion