I was too young to remember any of the Apollo missions (the first moon landing was six months before my birth). As a child of the ’80s, I remember the NASA space shuttle missions (there was a total of 135 of them) including the two disastrous ones. In 2021, a new era is underway. This one is being driven, not by government, but by private funding. This new chapter in space flight and exploration is a space race between well-known billionaires, Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), and Elon Musk (SpaceX). I missed Sir Richard’s flight in the rocket plane, Unity, on July 11th. But this morning I watched the entire maiden voyage of Bezos’ rocket, New Shepard, as he reached a height of 66.5 miles in the suborbital flight carrying Jeff, brother Mark, and both the oldest and youngest people to fly into space (Oliver Daeman is 18 and aviation pioneer Wally Funk is 82). From take off to touch down, the flight took 11 minutes.
These new ventures, like their predecessors, are sure to fire the imagination of the next generation, develop new technology, and generate national pride. The new frontier, for now, seems to be to launch space tourism. It dawned on me that those bankrolling these ventures and putting in the time and manpower to realize these goals creates multiple challenges to overcome.
Sure, there was a little flight training for the four passengers of New Shepard (classroom instruction, demonstrations, and practice), but the company website adds these facts: “Blue Origin has been flight testing New Shepard and its redundant safety systems since 2012. The program has had 15 successful consecutive missions including three successful escape tests, showing the crew escape system can activate safely in any phase of flight” (Source). Today’s flight was originally slated for 2018 (Source). Fortune Magazine says that Bezos has spent $5.5 billion of his own money on Blue Origin to this point (Source). Why expend the effort, money, energy, and risk? Men like these billionaires have proven they know what sells and how to turn a profit, but it also taps into the daring and adventure of the human spirit.
The dreams and visions of Joel 2:28-32, fulfilled on Pentecost when the church was established, are the miracles, signs, and wonders by which the apostles proved the truth of their message. In context, those dreams and visions were specific, supernatural demonstrations of the Holy Spirit. But Jesus wants us to share His dream and vision, first articulated in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. We call it the Great Commission. He spelled out the game plan for His apostles in Acts 1:8. Start local, move regional, and end up global. Share the gospel. Reach the lost. Grow the church. Over and over and over again! We’re going to have to dream big and conjure of visions of great things. We serve the same God the apostles did.
But, audacious dreams are hard, expensive, risky, and frustrating. They require us to change and grow. They cost us time, talent, and treasure. They may cost us friendships and relationships. They will include failures and misses as well as successes and hits. Yet, we are reaching higher than even outer space. Our ultimate goal is heaven!
As impressed as I am with these billionaires’ ambitions for outer space, we are children of the Creator and heirs of the Most High. His resources as infinite. His promises are sure. His mission is clear. Let’s launch ambitious dreams for Him. Lost souls are counting on it!