“Houston, We Have a Problem”

November 22, 2022 | Russ Moe

On day two of their mission to the moon in 1970, the Apollo 13 astronauts experienced a major explosion that crippled their spacecraft and doomed their survival. Teams on earth at Mission Control, sprang into action innovating dozens of unforeseen adjustments to the new challenges. The flight director ordered, “Failure is not an option.” The mission was redefined, and its course redirected. The extraordinary safe outcome of the potential disaster has since been called NASA’s finest hour.

Less known before that event was the fact that mid-course corrections are built into every flight plan. It’s an essential part of every journey. This is because adjustments are needed at strategic intervals to make the destination certain. 

Similarly the Fall and the new world, worldwide corruption and the Flood, the Tower of Babel and the origin of nations, the “Old Testament” succeeded by the New, etc., all demonstrate mid-course corrections. Our life’s journey is mirrored by God’s journey through history by way of mid-course corrections. It’s remarkable there are so many. The Judges, the Kings, the Captivity, the Dispersion and regathering, the Apostasy, and the Second Coming of Christ, all set up mid-course triumphs. We can draw great encouragement from this. No doubt that’s why they are so carefully documented for us. 

The Crucifixion and Resurrection was the greatest redirection triumph of all, assuring us that no challenge in life is too big for God to conquer. The Book of Revelation even pre-records God’s final outcome to assure success for our current challenges. 

Interruptions in life can seem unredeemable. But they don’t mean the mission must be aborted. God’s unfailing help can be called for in any crisis. Our journey is never so far off course that God cannot redirect it. With Him in Mission Control, there’s always hope.

Some feel like failures abort their destiny. But no one has ever finished their race without stumbling. Peter made three denials of Christ in His most difficult moment. Set back on course, the apostle inspired three thousand confessions of faith in Jesus with his first sermon, (Acts 2:40).

Breakdowns and failures are a part of every journey. When converted into a new flight plan, the journey can be just as extraordinary as a perfect performance, even more so if we persevere. Michael Jordan professed “I failed my way to success” after being cut from his high school basketball team. We need only allow our heavenly team to work its amazing adjustments to setbacks.

Saul was on his way to Damascus to destroy the church when his course was dramatically interrupted and reset by God. Even his name was changed to fit his new mission. Thankfully, he accepted the adjustment, although he sure didn’t foresee it coming when he loaded up the donkey that morning.

How many college majors have changed midcourse while on the way to a degree? How many earned degrees are never even used? My friend Dirk runs a very successful carpet cleaning business that has served the community and his family for over thirty years, but his degree is in teaching.

Someone rightly said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Changes in how the course of your life will go certainly will happen along the way. Things can occur that you were sure would never happen to you: divorce, deaths, accidents, betrayals, moves. How often have you heard someone start a sentence with, “I never thought I’d ...?” 

Joni Erickson-Tada had the course of her life redirected after a tragic diving accident left her a quadriplegic at age sixteen. Now with a world-renowned ministry for Christ, she has inspired millions. The fruitfulness of her new destiny probably exceeds the original. She once said “I wouldn’t trade the sweetness of Christ for the ability to walk.” That’s a divine mid-course correction.

“All things work together for good” means although not all things are good, they can be. Our “flight director” and His team have that ability. His hope is never aborted; mid-course corrections keep the mission intact. We experience His hope if we keep Him in control. I look back at the course of my life’s journey in wonder at how God got me to where I am today.

The astronauts called out, “Houston, we have a problem.” Our “flight director” promises, “… whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved” (Romans 10:13, KJV). Praise God, failure is not an option for Him.