Apollo 13 caught my attention last night as it was broadcast on a local station. The movie is harrowing in its telling details of the ill-fated mission to the moon and equally triumphant in reliving the experience of all that it took to bring the three astronauts home. I remember the actual events of those seven days so many years ago. The newscasters interpreting the scientific data, the taped interviews with the men stranded in space, the world coming together in prayer. What compels me to watch this movie over and over are the bits of information which we were not privy to at the time of the disaster, but also how those small moments intertwine with what we did know.

The mission began as so routine that we barely acknowledged it. Going to the moon had become almost commonplace. It was only when the explosion occurred, causing massive damage to the spacecraft, that the United States and the world took notice. Having survived to that point, the astronauts and everyone on the ground at NASA had to refocus their efforts toward a new goal: get the men back to earth safely. Landing on the moon was no longer an available option. Energy use on board the spacecraft was dropped to a minimum in order to conserve enough power to bring them home. Concerns about trajectory in reentering the earth's atmosphere were heavily on every mind of the NASA team members. As time ticked away, Ken Mattingly, bumped from the flight because it was suspected he may have the measles, accepted the job of working in the flight simulator, searching for the correct sequencing of power switches that would get the space craft fully up and running when the time came for reentry. It is the images of Mattingly going over and over everything he knows about this spacecraft, racing against time to help his friends, that connected me to an important lesson for life.

Mattingly knew he had to work within the already-calculated boundaries of power left to work with, limited though they were. He never doubted he could, but he kept coming up short each time he ran the sequence. Finally, having closed the gap to four amps of electricity, about the amount needed to run a coffee pot, Mattingly realized there was enough power in the unused Lunar Landing Module, and a way to bring that energy to the main capsule to compensate for the remaining energy needed. The mission was considered a successful failure because we didn't land on the moon, but the crew came home safely.

Crisis seems to bring out the best in people, or so we are told whenever these moments happen and we take the time to reflect afterward. I would say instead that crisis causes us to focus and call upon our strength and talents. During emergencies we don't choose to be as caught up in our worries as much as in other, less immediately threatening circumstances. Take away that need to act out of our survival instinct and we allow ourselves to be drawn into the less productive sides of our natures. We worry about what isn't going right in our lives, what is wrong with the world and how badly people treat one another. We focus on how hard it will be to get through traffic, how much higher prices at the grocery store will rise and how cold/hot/wet/dry the weather might be tomorrow. We pretty much worry and complain and project that worry into the future. While crisis is touted as bringing out our best, daily life holds our standard at its lowest common denominator. Worry is that standard.

Jesus shared a different sense of these things. "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today (Matthew 6:34)." The seven day mission of Apollo 13 dramatizes the need to deal with what is in front of us and not borrow trouble in worrying that something may or may not happen even when we so desperately needed it to. Worrying about the typhoon that almost came to be at the capsule's landing site in the South Pacific would not have helped Ken Mattingly and his team in locating the four amps of electricity they needed to bring the capsule and the crew home. Reducing our own lives to worrying about what is wrong or frightening or what may never be distracts us from focusing on our best selves. Worrying needlessly saps our energy and keeps us from locating our four amps, that unique piece of ourselves that will bring us forward to completing something spectacular or simply feeling more solidly connected to God in our faith.

Jesus' words remind us that worry isn't all that useful to us, and it separates us from knowing God's peace, joy, love and contentment. In fact, though Jesus recognized worry as part of the human condition, he tells us in these words recorded in Matthew's Gospel that worry is of no consequence, that it is here today and gone tomorrow, quite the opposite of God's love which is abundant, graceful and always with us.

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Bring authentic, meaningful faith into your daily life by visiting www.creatingwomenministries.com.