What do we spend our lives committed to and is it worth it?
In the grand scheme of things will our little projects or our careers have any meaning? When I say ‘grand scheme’ I’m not talking about reflecting on my life upon my death bed but reflecting on my mortal life having been alive for a million years in the presence of God. The only thing that will matter then is the fact that we used these mortal years to try and secure eternity by calling on the grace of God and didn’t get distracted by committing ourselves to ultimately worthless things.
But what will matter is that I have served God with all my heart, soul and mind even though it was tough and I loved my neighbours and my enemies.
Yes, jobs are important. Yes, projects can be rewarding. But don’t be so committed to them that you miss the whole point of this life.
Let’s go to Nehemiah 10. Here the people committed themselves, halfway through verse 29, to ‘obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the LORD our God’. And in the final sentence of the chapter, “We will not neglect the house of our God.”
Why were they rededicating themselves in this way? Because they realised their life without God was pointless. In Chapter 9 and the last three verses it says “…”.
It took exile and imprisonment to realise that all their previous commitments and distractions of false gods had gotten them nowhere.
Like the Israelites, we are slaves to this world and its commitments and distractions. ‘Slave’ may seem like an overly harsh word but 5 days of every week my alarm goes off at 7.10 and I catch the train at 7.53 for 7 minutes and then walk up from the station and start work at 8.20. I try and make a website look as nice as possible, try and fulfil all my designated tasks and then I leave and go home.
If we see this as a necessity to survive and support our families while we try and serve God then we’re doing ok, but as soon as this drifts into becoming a dedication and a commitment that is more important than God then you may as well be digging the earth and sweating in the heat of the sun with a leg iron around your ankle because both lives have no hope.
Solomon in Ecclesiastes again says
“This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?”.
Whether you’ve been to the moon or not, you still depart this world the same as everyone else. If at the end of it you are remembered by men but not remembered by God then that’s Game Over.
Neil Armstrong is probably still one of the most recognised names in the world. After his death, he was described, in a statement released by the White House, as
“among the greatest of American heroes—not just of his time, but of all time”.
But what does God think of Neil Armstrong? Because if He doesn’t think much of him then going to the moon was a waste of time and doesn’t count for anything in the eternal scheme of things.
Nehemiah’s last words in his book are
“Remember me with favour, O my God.”
This is the perspective we should have. We want God to remember us with favour. His reward should be sought far above any reward we may receive from men. There’s no point in being a slave to the world so you can have a fleeting reward, instead live a life to be remembered by God.
Revelation 3: 12 – This is the reward for those who are remembered by God. This is what lies in store for Nehemiah and for us.
Nehemiah rebuilt a city and purified a people before the eyes of God and we remember that because it is recorded for us here. Jesus said that the woman who poured expensive perfume over his feet will be remembered wherever the gospel is preached.
Yet, every man who has walked on the moon is hardly ever mentioned apart from two.
1 Corinthians 1: 25, 26 – Compared with perhaps the greatest achievement of mankind our efforts may not seem wise, or influential, or noble. But by our allegiance we are aligned with the greatest man who ever lived.
Verse 30, 31 – You can keep your moon landings because our King entered into heaven itself! What did you find on the moon? Dust and rocks. Jesus entered into the presence of God. And this man is our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption!
The other thing that struck me was how close the whole Apollo mission came to complete disaster many times. For example, as the module was descending it became clear that the intended landing site was actually covered with boulders which, if landed on, could break the ship and make take off impossible so a new site had to be found urgently. Eventually Armstrong spies a good spot but can’t be sure because of the amount of dust they have kicked up. In all the simulations, they would have aborted the landing and returned to the main ship but because they were actually there doing it for real they just go for it knowing full well that if they screw up then they are stuck on the moon forever. The ship itself was not really designed for things not to go to plan, it was essentially tin foil wrapped around some poles and, by the time they landed, the fuel in the tanks was at less than 1%, which has been estimated to be about 10 seconds, giving them just enough to lift off and then float back to the rendezvous point with the main ship. That is unthinkably close and would have made for an entirely different experience for the whole world had it watched the two men get stranded. In fact, in 1999, the US government released the protocol of what would have happened if the take off from the surface had gone wrong. It included switching off communication to let Armstrong and Aldrin decide if they wanted to take their own lives or simply wait for their oxygen to run out.
The other thing that I found fascinating was this quote that the Saturn V rocket had six million parts, “meaning that, even with NASA’s astounding 99.9 per cent reliability target, roughly 6,000 things could be expected to go wrong on a good flight.” To think that all those involved were willing to risk the lives of these men with those sort of odds is unbelievable and is only forgivable because they got away with it. But, get away with it they did. Despite the possibility of 6,000 things going wrong they made it back to earth physically unharmed.
NASA’s reliability rate is 99.9% but God’s is 100%. Even though 6,000 things could go wrong in our lives, God will grant us entry to His Kingdom if we trust in Him over ourselves. We believe in something that is foolish to the world, namely the resurrection of the dead but because God is in charge we know, for certain, that it will happen.
1 Corinthians 15: 51-54
What a blessing to know God’s plan, what a blessing to know that in the future nothing will cause us fear or pain and Jesus Christ will be the rightful ruler of this world.
The first man to walk on the earth without sinning. The first man to enter into the presence of God. The first man to have angels worshipping him. The first man to be able to save the human race from their projects and distractions and bring them to their true calling of a relationship with God.