“But because they are hard”

This summer we celebrated the 50th anniversary of landing a man on the moon. If you’re a nerd like I am, you’ve been watching the PBS specials with your kids and using them as part of your homeschool curricula. If you were alive in 1969, you probably remember where you were when you heard the famous words Neil Armstrong spoke as he did his moonwalk. But I want to back up even further to some famous words spoken by JFK in a speech he gave in 1962. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other hard things, not because they are easy but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills; because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

This speech fired up the nation, united the people under a common goal, and gave them all a mission they felt like they were a part of. But what does it have to do with this blog and our God and our walk of faith? I’m so glad you asked. Here are a couple of parallels . . . and one big difference. 

Two parallels:
Nobody said it would be easy. In fact, just the opposite. When JFK made that famous speech, he didn’t promise an easy decade of fun space travel, à la the Jetsons. He knew there would be failures along the way, and he rallied the nation around the concept of doing something because it was hard. In the same way, God never promised us an easy road in this life. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble.” Did you notice that helping verb? Not might or could but will. That’s a promise of trouble. And in Matthew 16:24, Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Troubles and crosses—hard things indeed. Why would we deliberately choose this? That brings me to our next parallel.

It’s worth it. Congress, NASA, the astronauts themselves, and the American people agreed on this. This mission was worth the risk. It was worth the hardship. It was worth the loss of life and the monetary debt the country would incur. And that moment where we took “one small step” on the moon? I doubt there was anyone listening that day who would have said it wasn’t worth every step along the way. In the same way, our walk with God is worth it. It’s worth standing up for our faith, it’s worth every bit of persecution we might face, and it’s worth being different in our college classrooms or our workplaces. It’s worth sharing our faith with others so that they too can take up their crosses and follow Jesus. Landing a man on the moon was worth it. Landing people in heaven is totally worth it. 

One big difference:
Motivation. Let’s face it—America wanted to win the space race against the Soviets. That was the major motivation and push behind the whole program. Proving that we were the greatest nation on the earth . . . and in space. In short, a bit self-centered and self-promoting. Our motivation for doing the hard things as Christians is just the opposite—it’s because Jesus did the ultimate hard thing for us by dying on a cross to save us from our sins. Talk about a giant leap for mankind! Because Jesus made this leap for us, we now can live fully for him. 

When Jesus called his disciples, they left everything to follow him. They didn’t follow Jesus for personal gain or fame or to win some race against the Pharisees. They were called to do hard things, and they had plenty of failures along the way. But in the end, most of them gave up their very lives for God because of what Jesus had done for them. Remember that passage I quoted earlier? Jesus promised, “In this world you will have trouble.” Well, Jesus didn’t stop there. He continued, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” When things get hard, we realize our need for God and fall on our knees before him, longing for the world to come.

I’ll take a few liberties with JFK’s famous words and leave you with a closing image of God on his throne, outlining the plan to his angels, rallying them with a speech that might have sounded something like this: 

“We choose to send my Son to the cross, not because it is easy but because it is hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our grace and mercy; and because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one which we are unwilling to postpone, and we intend to win souls for my kingdom.” 

Missy lives in Green Bay, WI, with her husband, Jon, where they own and run Copper State Brewing Company. She homeschools their four active children, oftentimes at the brewery, and they somehow keep learning in spite of her. Missy loves witty banter, adventures of all sorts, and coffee . . . lots of coffee. And Jesus . . . lots of Jesus.

 

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