Today marks the 40th anniversary of the first landing on the moon, and those uttered words that we will always remember, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” My mind goes back to a visit at the Kennedy Space Center, where they shared the clip from JFK’s speech that inspired the whole journey into outer space in the first place:
“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other 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 that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” John F. Kennedy, “We choose to go to the Moon Speech,” September 12, 1962.
The moon. It was a choice. People rallied behind it. It became the single aim of an entire sector of government research and development. Those who believed in the goal made sacrifices to achieve it, including some who died in the process. And they made it. Seven years later, they made it to the surface of the moon.
To me, this illustrates one of my favorite quotes, one that I had to memorize in the fourth grade:
“Remember that you will never reach a higher standard than you yourself set. Then set your mark high, and step by step, even though it be by painful effort, by self-denial and sacrifice, ascend the whole length of the ladder of progress. Let nothing hinder you. Fate has not woven its meshes about any human being so firmly that he need remain helpless and in uncertainty. Opposing circumstances should create a firm determination to overcome them. The breaking down of one barrier will give greater ability and courage to go forward. Press with determination in the right direction, and circumstances will be your helpers, not your hindrances. Be ambitious, for the Master’s glory, to cultivate every grace of character. In every phase of your character building you are to please God. This you may do; for Enoch pleased Him though living in a degenerate age. And there are Enochs in this our day.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 331-332.
As I reflect on this quote in the context of the historical events we are commemorating today, I can’t help but wonder, what about our generation? Admittedly, I was raised liberal, attended a liberal university, and often find my social leanings to be quite liberal. So I find myself looking for the next great frontier, the next great social cause, feeling that I should have been born a generation or two earlier to have something to fight for, to have something live for, to have something to hope for.
But as a Christian who believes in the soon second coming of Jesus, there is no better time to live. Just as President Kennedy set a goal to go to the moon a generation ago, we have a goal set before us today:”Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success in life must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor. Such an aim is set before the youth of today. The heaven-appointed purpose of giving the gospel to the world in this generation is the noblest that can appeal to any human being. It opens a field of effort to everyone whose heart Christ has touched.” Education, p. 262.
Our aim is definite. The goal is set before us. The gospel. To the world. In this generation. The noblest cause because it is the cause that will truly end all causes. But are we ready to stand up and truly be the greatest generation? Ready to make the sacrifices necessary to precipitate the greatest revolution ever, not just because it will be the greatest victory ever, but it will last forever? There will be a generation that finally takes the call seriously, and they will be the Enochs among us, they will see Jesus come. I pray we are that generation.