I am on my way to Albania to serve Young Life in the southern Balkan countries of Albania, Bulgaria, and Macedonia, providing several leadership development educational opportunities. Key to surviving a 19 hour, three-legged trip is Audible and a couple great books. One book I hope to get to is First Man: The Life of Neil. A. Armstrong.
It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college. I remember staying up late into that hot July night, listening on my GE transistor radio ear piece to the broadcast of the Apollo 11 landing. It seemed like Armstrong took forever to finally climb out of the lunar module, Eagle, once it landed. When he did, I got to hear his famous quote live: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” I was fascinated with space travel from its inception. I especially followed the Apollo missions. When John F. Kennedy declared, “We choose to go to the moon” during a speech in Houston, I was 12 years old. I was 19 the night of the landing in July 1969. A moon landing was accomplished in seven years. Talk about focus!
There were several Apollo missions to the moon prior to Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing. I soaked it all up. I recall the first time an Apollo spacecraft left earth’s gravitational pull and entered into the pull of the moon’s gravity. It was a specific point in space in which the gravitational pull was zero. I remember a count down from Houston: 3,2,1… you are now being drawn in by the moon. Prior to that, the spacecraft’s engines were ablaze as it fought the pull of earth’s gravity. After reaching the zero-gravity point, they could begin to shut down the engines and coast toward the moon.
I suspect had Houston not informed the Apollo crew of the zero gravity point in space, they would have traveled several thousand more miles before they might have noticed. They weren’t focused on the point of zero gravity, they were focused on the moon. Passing through zero gravity was something that happened along the way on the journey to the moon. It’s quite possible they could have focused on reaching that point and ended up missing the moon by tens of thousands of miles.
John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 30:30). Christ-followers seek that. We would love to get to that point in life where it’s more about Jesus and less about self. Here’s the rub. In our desire to reach that crossover point in our journey where it becomes more about Him, we could easily end up making that our focus. Wrong focus! We want to focus on Jesus and along the way we get to a place where it’s more of Him and less of us. Unlike traveling to the moon, we can’t calculate when that might happen. It’s a natural outcome of focusing on Jesus. It’s metamorphosis all over again. I’d be willing to bet that if my focus is the crossover, I might never realize it. But if my focus is Him, then it might actually happen. If it does happen someday, I likely won’t be aware of it for a few years; not until looking back I realize something changed and I don’t have to strive as much anymore – not coasting, but sort of.