Those of you who are interested in space exploration will doubtless be aware of all the problems which have plagued NASA over the years in their attempt to reach Mars. In 1997 the Mars Pathfinder riveted people with live pictures from the Martian surface. The future looked bright as they planned to send at least one mission to Mars every twenty six months. A new policy was introduced by its head director Dan Goldin: Faster, Better, Cheaper.
To design these missions for about 1/10th of the cost, they cut staff and cut down on training those that remained. They overworked their navigation teams. They tried to get a quality product but what happened was failure. In September 1999 the Mars Orbiter failed due to a silly mistake – the builder had used English units of measurement in the systems while the operators at NASA were using metric units. Later the Mars Polar Lander broke into a thousand pieces because it hit Mars at fifty miles per hour. This was simply due to the braking system cutting off too soon. The engineering team admitted this could have been prevented by running a software simulation which had not been purchased because of lack of time and money. NASA has learnt that skipping steps ends in disaster.
There are no political solutions to the problems faced by our country today, because the problems are mainly spiritual ones; a lack of belief in right and wrong, a lack of belief in God or in a Day of Judgement and so on. You cannot run a Nation “on the cheap”. If people do not invest time and put effort into the spiritual side of life, then the result will be a nation without spiritual qualities and a consequential collapse of society. At an individual level often people lament to me that they are too busy to pray, too busy to read their Bible to hear what God is trying to teach them and too busy to spend just one hour a week in Church. The result is that many feel distant from God, or they feel they “are only just coping” or they feel “close to the edge”. Others complain of being stressed or depressed or feeling dissatisfied with their lot in life. Others end up with mental health issues due to the pace of life. As a minister I see many individuals “running on empty”. When will people learn!
Whether one is looking at the nation as a whole, or at individual lives the reality is that the spiritual part of us, really is important after all. One simply can’t run one’s life “on the cheap” and expect all to be well. Church going, praying and Bible reading really are vital after all. These three aspects of the spiritual life are like the three pillars of a bridge. When all three are in place the bridge – or one’s life is strong and able to handle all that comes along, but if any or all of these pillars are missing or decaying then when trouble comes and weight is put on the bridge, the result is collapse. This nation has collapsed because it failed to invest in what really matters. Individuals collapse in the same way.
How is your bridge at the moment? Is it strong enough to face yet more world tension, more terrorist attacks, economic hardship and more armed conflict? Is it strong enough that you can say “the Lord is my Helper” no matter what lies ahead in my own personal life? If you cannot say this, then the hour has come to invest time and effort in your spiritual life. Don’t ignore your spiritual life; it is the most important thing of all. (Matthew ch 7 vs 24-27).