“Houston, we have a problem.” They are the most famous words ever uttered in the history of space travel. One single sentence, five small words, but they signal what could have been the greatest disaster in the history of NASA.
It was April 13, 1970; astronauts Jim Lovell, John Swigert, and Fred Haise were in the command module – Odyssey. They were two hundred thousand miles from Earth, 5/6th of the way to the moon, 55 hours into their flight when disaster struck.
A mysterious explosion rocked the ship and left it less than two hours from becoming a permanent tomb in space. The crew watched in horror as the cockpit grew darker, the air grew thinner and instruments went blank. Then Captain Jim Lovell got on the radio and uttered those famous words – “Houston, We Have a Problem.” Yet these words marked what would become in the annals of American space travel our finest hour.
If you think about it, life is a lot like Apollo 13. You can be cruising along in that cozy little space ship of your life, enjoying the scenery, except you are not just looking at the moon, the stars, and the galaxies, but you are watching your little boy play soccer, your beautiful wife napping on the couch, enjoying a great game of golf until all of a sudden there is an explosion in your life. Your spouse walks in and says, “Houston, we have a problem – I don’t love you anymore.” The principal from school calls and says, “Houston, we have a problem – your daughter is on drugs.” The doctor looks you in the eyes and says, “Houston, we have a problem – there is something on the x-ray that doesn’t look good.” All of a sudden the walls of your life can crumble right before your very eyes.
In the movie, Houston answered. The story of Apollo 13 is a story of collaboration between the engineers at NASA and the astronauts in space. Together they took what could have been a disaster and worked the problem to a successful conclusion.
When you have a problem and call out for help, who answers? With whom do you collaborate when your protective walls are falling down all around you? Who comes running when you have fallen?
I began my prayer this morning, “God, I have a problem….”