2018 has been a difficult year, but many have written that the difficulties of 2018 pale when compared to 1968. Fifty years ago today Senator Robert F. Kennedy was fatally wounded after winning the Democratic presidential primary in California. Earlier in the year, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In 1968 the nation experienced the seizure of the USS Pueblo by the North Koreans, the Tet offensive in Vietnam, the unrest at the Democratic National Convention, and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. There was a lot of pain and many setbacks.
Then on December 21, Apollo 8 was launched. Had the launch or mission failed, the US would not have achieved the goal of landing on the moon before the decade of the 1960s ended. The Apollo crew followed in the footsteps of their predecessors, the Mercury Astronauts who were chronicled in the book and movie, “The Right Stuff.” Clearly, the Apollo 8 crew and all who worked to get them into space had the right stuff.
The Apollo 8 mission was a great success as the crew orbited the moon, providing us with the iconic photo of earth’s rising. The crew read Genesis 1 on Christmas Eve and lifted the spirit of the United States. Some have even written that Apollo 8 saved 1968. Months later the United States successfully placed a man on the moon.
While chaos swirled around them in 1968 the Apollo 8 team remained focused on their mission. They would not stop assassinations and unrest but they performed their duties faithfully throughout the year (and before) ant the whole country benefited.
We can learn from the Apollo 8 crew and the team that launched them into space as we experience the difficulties of 2018. We too need to stay focused on our mission: raising our kids, strengthening our marriage, doing our job in a way that brings honor to God—developing the right stuff. We can’t control the actions of others but if we do well what we have been put here to do others will greatly benefit.