It was Jan. 28, 1986; and I was pumping gas at a service station on Rt. 146 between Uxbridge, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island, when a news story came over the radio. The space shuttle Challenger broke apart only 73 seconds after its launch from Florida. All seven crew members were killed.
Many people in New England were devastated because one of their own, a schoolteacher, Christa McAuliffe, was on board. She was selected from more than 11,000 applicants to become the first schoolteacher in space. I had watched her smiling face and hand wave as she boarded the shuttle that morning. But the launches were so routine in those days, who wanted to wait around to watch that? I had an appointment in Rhode Island, so I left our home listening to the liftoff on the radio. At first, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I stopped pumping gas, got into my car and drove home. I was stunned.
I was reminded of this episode recently while reading Charles Krauthammer’s book Things That Matter. He wrote a column about the American space program in 2012 when the space shuttle Endeavor was retired to the California Science Center in south Los Angeles. You may recall the spectacular scenes of the space shuttle being pulled down the streets of Los Angeles on its way to the museum. Mr. Krauthammer referred to the retiring of Endeavor and the end of the space program as a symbol that America had lost her will. He referred to Endeavor being entombed in a museum as though a part of America had died and was now buried.
It is true that when John F. Kennedy promised we would go to the moon before the end of the decade of the 60s that America was energized. Pride in one’s country can produce amazing results. Even though there were some failures along the way, America succeeded in going to the moon by the end of that decade. As a freshman in college, I watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the surface of the moon. I can’t imagine any American who owned a TV not watching that event with a tear in his eye, pride in his heart and a shout in his throat—look what America did!
Today, we seem to have entered an age of selfishness, where each person feels that he deserves more than he has and that our country is unfair. The rich are targeted for having too much and the poor are demanding a bigger handout. What happened to the days when we felt like we were a country with a common goal—rich or poor, white or black?
So what is missing? Without a common goal in life, we lose heart and direction, whether a nation or an individual. Many great civilizations have crumbled because they lost their way. America has certainly lost her way. But the same works for an individual. If you have no real goals, you can’t expect to achieve the potential that God put within every human being. It will require hard work and a few failed attempts along the way, but if we can focus our attention on what really matters—a relationship with God, the goal to become a better person each day and to put true values ahead of personal gain—we can achieve greatness.
You see, greatness isn’t how much money you have or what position you hold in a company, but it has to do with what you become. You see, God wants a family composed of sons and daughters, but even that future gets lost in the religious confusion that engulfs our nation and the world.
We here at Life, Hope & Truth want to see that potential fulfilled in every human being. It is our mission to bring that message to the world. We are a small organization, but we have a big dream. We dream of a day when the entire world will see clearly who God is and what He is doing. It isn’t quite the same as the space program; but once fulfilled, it will take us beyond the stars and to heights that are unimaginable.
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Jim Franks.