At 10:56 pm EDT July 20 1969 Neil Armstrong made his descent to the Moon’s surface and spoke his famous line “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” The mission fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s goal of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s, which he expressed during a speech given before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
A few years ago in Florida with a little time to spare, I decided to take a drive. I was staying in Orlando and thought I would just head east a bit and check out The Kennedy Space Center. Though not a space buff myself, I had always found NASA fascinating. It was the Fourth of July weekend I was thinking again of what the great freedoms of this nation propelled by the American spirit could accomplish. After touring the “Pass only” areas and being overwhelmed by the imposing structures and the sight of the Space Shuttle Endeavor sitting on launch pad 39A ready for the transition from earth to space. Over and over the words of Neil Armstrong echoed in my mind, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.
Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation… for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
There it is, our one small step. Not much we could do really when it comes to the issue of sin and separation from God. But oh, how God loves his creation, and in the midst of that Love was found a way to take a step toward Him! But because our step was limited, God reached down to us. And there standing at the Mecca of mans greatest efforts to reach the heavens I was reminded of how God reached down to us. Paul again wrote, “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” You talk about a giant leap for mankind! The leap, however, was from heaven to earth. God came here so we could go there!
Peter Michelmore wrote in a 1987 Readers Digest, “Normally the flight from Nassau to Miami took Walter Wyatt, Jr., only sixty-five minutes. But on December 5, 1986, he attempted it after thieves had looted the navigational equipment in his Beechcraft. With only a compass and a hand-held radio, Walter flew into skies blackened by storm clouds. When his compass began to gyrate, Walter concluded he was headed in the wrong direction. Flying his plane below the clouds, hoping to spot something, but soon he was lost. He put out a mayday call, which brought a Coast Guard Falcon search plane to lead him to an emergency landing strip only six miles away. Suddenly Wyatt’s right engine coughed its last and died. The fuel tank had run dry. Around 8 p.m. Wyatt could do little more than glide the plane into the water. Wyatt survived the crash, but his plane disappeared quickly, leaving him bobbing on the water in a leaky life vest. With blood on his forehead, Wyatt floated on his back. Suddenly he felt a hard bump against his body. A shark had found him. Wyatt kicked the intruder and wondered if he would survive the night. He managed to stay afloat for the next ten hours. By morning, Wyatt saw no airplanes, but in the water, a dorsal fin was headed for him. Twisting, he felt the hide of a shark brush against him. In a moment, two more bull sharks sliced through the water toward him. Again, he kicked the sharks, and they veered away, but he was nearing exhaustion. Then he heard the sound of a distant aircraft. When it was within a half-mile, he waved his orange vest. The pilot radioed the Cape York, twelve minutes away: Get moving, cutter! There’s a shark targeting this guy! As the Cape York pulled alongside Wyatt, a Jacob’s ladder was dropped over the side. Wyatt climbed wearily onto the ship, where he fell to his knees and kissed the deck. He’d been saved.”
He didn’t need encouragement or better techniques. Nothing less than outside intervention could have rescued him from sure death. How much we are like Walter Wyatt. Mankind is still reaching up and thankfully God is still reaching down. Perhaps you need to take your small step today, God has already taken his.
Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council in Washington