The third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes opens with these words: "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die."
To go down to the tenth verse, we read: "I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity in their hearts."
In the 103rd psalm, verse 14, we read: "For he knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass. As a flower of the field so he flourishes for the wind passes over it and it is gone and its place remembers it no more."
And then the book of Proverbs, Chapter 3, verses 5 and 6. I've seen Rick write this under his name as he signed someone's picture or memorabilia many, many times: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths."
One moment in time changes everything. It's the difference between triumph and tragedy - 16 minutes. The difference between what took place yesterday and what would have been a great victorious mission and accomplishment. Tragedy and triumph. Triumph captures the attention of the world, but it doesn't capture it like tragedy. If tragedy is of the proportion of what we all witnessed yesterday, that is something that captures the attention of the world and brings to our nation great loss and morning.
Just a couple of weeks ago, right here in this service, Mike and Rick stood with their families, Evelyn and Sandy and the kids, and we prayed for them. It was just right when they were leaving to go be quarantined. I asked Mike to talk about the shuttle, what was important. Mike talked about the challenges of life but he talked about something more. I want you to listen to what he had to say:
"Every shuttle flight comes with its own set of challenges, and this flight's been no different. We've had a lot of challenges. Rick and I both feel that we were put on this mission together for a reason. And we tried to meet all those challenges with prayer, and God's very good at answering our prayers. We'd just like to ask for your prayers as we get ready to go on this 16-day mission. Not only prayers for a safe flight but also so that in some small way we can use this platform as a way to really let people know what we believe, and we would like God's message to get out there. So thank you for your prayers and please continue praying for salvation."
"Leading up to the first interview was kind of a time when Evelyn and I both started into a period of spiritual growth and really learning what it's like to live your life as a Christian the way God would want you to live your life. So that was a time of growth and learning and conviction. I was fortunate enough to go an interview to be an astronaut in early 1992, but was not hired. And we went off to England for an exchange assignment with the Royal Air Force. During that time, I had the opportunity to have a lot of quiet times, and I had just maybe a couple of years previous to that we had been going to a church that actually taught the Bible and taught what it meant to live your life as a Christian, as far as trying to learn the word of God, memorizing Bible verses, having a quiet time, the idea of fellowship with small groups. Sitting there in the morning when I had my quiet times, I had gotten a letter from a friend of mine who had gotten an assignment to fly an airplane he had always wanted to fly. He talked about Psalm 37:4 where it says 'Commit your way to the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.' I got to looking at that as almost like God asked me, 'Ok, so what really are the desires of your heart?'
"Initially, the first thing brought to mind was that I want to be an astronaut. But God said, 'No, no. Thing about it for a little while and tell me what really is the desire of your heart.' Because that was just kind of an automatic response and had been up to that point. And I got to thinking about it and thought, well, if I ended up at the end of my life having been an astronaut but having sacrificed my family along the way or living my life in a way that didn't glorify God, then I would look back on it with great regret. Having become an astronaut would not have mattered that much. I finally realized that what really meant the most to me was to try to live my life the way God wanted me to and to be a good husband to Evelyn and to be a good father to my children and to do everything I possibly could to make sure that they knew who Jesus was, and that they had every opportunity to make a choice themselves for Jesus. And it was like a light came on all of a sudden where I finally realized that this thing about being an astronaut was not as important as I thought it was. I finally came to the point where I said, 'OK, Lord, I don't care what I go do or where you send me, I just want to try and do those things. I just want to be somebody who lives the life that glorifies you. I want to be a good husband and I want to be a good father, and come what may as far as the rest of it goes.'