Of course, long before the movie came out, the actual “Apollo 13” moon shot became famous for something else as well. It was on this mission that commander Jim Lovell uttered the now famous words: “Houston, we have a problem.” Indeed they did! One of their two massive oxygen tanks had exploded. In the process, their spacecraft had been mortally wounded barely halfway to the moon!
Despite their “problem”, as history proved and as the movie reveals, Lovell and his crew remained remarkedly cool under pressure, doggedly working to overcome a succession of problems seemingly conspiring to kill them in flight as they struggled to return their dying ship to earth intact before all its life support systems expired.
It is in this context that my favorite scene in the entire movie unfolds. Perhaps you have seen it. A certain national news network, clamoring to fill the airwaves as it covered the unfolding of this unprecedented event, manages to dig up an old interview with Lovell, which it then broadcasts.
In the clip, Lovell is asked how he feels about the dangers of flight and how he has and would respond to any such emergency. His answer, referencing his days of military service in Southeast Asia, is insightful…
“Uh well, I'll tell ya, I remember this one time - I'm in a Banshee at night in combat conditions, so there's no running lights on the carrier. It was the Shrangri-La, and we were in the Sea of Japan and my radar had jammed, and my homing signal was gone... because somebody in Japan was actually using the same frequency.
And so it was - it was leading me away from where I was supposed to be. And I'm lookin' down at a big, black ocean, so I flip on my map light, and then suddenly: zap. Everything shorts out right there in my cockpit. All my instruments are gone. My lights are gone. And I can't even tell now what my altitude is. I know I'm running out of fuel, so I'm thinking about ditching in the ocean.
And I, I look down there, and then in the darkness there's this uh, there's this green trail. It's like a long carpet that's just laid out right beneath me. And it was the algae, right? It was that phosphorescent stuff that gets churned up in the wake of a big ship. And it was - it was - it was leading me home. You know? If my cockpit lights hadn't shorted out, there's no way I'd ever been able to see that. So uh, you, uh, never know... what... what events are to transpire to get you home…”
I must admit that I get chills every time I watch this scene. I can only imagine how Jim Lovell must have felt in those first few moments when he thinks all is lost. The emotional low of that realization can only have been surpassed a moment later by the emotional high of realizing he had been shown the light, and the way…
The Bible, of course, affirms that God lights our path. One of the ways He does this is through His word. Thus, Psalm 119:105 famously declares: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Another way He does this is through our willingness to trust in Him. Hence, we read in Proverbs 3:5-8:
“5Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. 7Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. 8This will bring healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.”
This last passage has particular relevance for my family at this time, as my sister continues her journey through the dark world of cancer. While the circumstances can make it seem as if she (and we) are hopelessly confused and lost, the truth is that the Lord has not abandoned us. In His uniquely perfect timing, and in His uniquely perfect way, our God has promised to light the way and show her (and us) the way in which we are to go forward.
All He asks of her (and us) in turn is to honor His Word and to exercise complete trust in Him. This she (and we) commit(s) to do.
Do these passages also have relevance for you? My strong suspicion is that they do. If so, then I encourage you to honor God’s Word and trust in Him. As you do, look about expectancy for a flicker of light; for He will surely provide just such in the midst of your darkness!
QUOTE SOURCE: https://www.quotes.net/mquote/4442.
SCRIPTURE SOURCES: https://biblehub.com/psalms/119-105.htm;