Jim Lovell, famed astronaut and commander of the failed Apollo 13 mission to the moon (a mission which very nearly cost the life of Commander Lovell and his crew) was once asked if he had ever faced genuine fear or hopelessness before. He responded by recounting the events of a particular night mission over the Sea of Japan during WWII.
The fighter jet he was piloting was severely crippled. Both his radar and homing devices failed. He was flying blind, and knew that he wouldn’t even be able to see the lights of his aircraft carrier below because they were sailing in blackout mode due to the combat conditions. As he turned on his map light to try to get his bearings, all of his lights and instrumentation shorted out. Without his altimeter, he had no way of gauging how close he was to crashing into the darkness of the waters below.
Just when he felt all hope was lost he saw the faint, phosphorescent glow of a long trail of algae. He went on to explain that large ships churn up the algae in their wake as they cut through the ocean seas. He knew his carrier had to be close. "It was like a long carpet laid out for me, leading me home." Had his lights not failed, he would never been able to see the faint glow below. He wistfully recalled, "You never know what events will transpire to get you home."
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James "Jim" Arthur Lovell, Jr., (born March 25, 1928) is a former NASA astronaut and a retired captain in the United States Navy, most famous as the commander of the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon but was brought back safely to Earth by the efforts of the crew and mission control. Lovell was also the command module pilot of Apollo 8, the first Apollo mission to enter lunar orbit. Lovell is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon, the first of only three people to fly to the Moon twice, and the only one to do so without making a landing.
God often sends help from surprising sources. The psalmist asked, "I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from?" Have you ever looked up to the hills wondering from where help might come? The means by which God's deliverance might come is impossible to predict. He can use surprising things, like the lights shorting out at what seems like the worst possible moment.
But while the means may vary, the source of our salvation is always the same. The psalmist gives us that source as he answers his own question in the verse to follow. "My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1-2). You never know what events will transpire to lead you home—but rest assured, God does!
“For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end” (Psalm 48:14). “Even though I walk or run, or fly, or … through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). “The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11).