Pastor Mark Scott's Blog
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August 15, 2017, 7:44 PM

Ever Feel Stuck On The Launch Pad of Life?

Most of us that grew up with the NASA space program remember the excitement, after the Apollo missions had been shut down for several years, that was felt when NASA announced in 1981 that a new era of space travel would soon begin and would be known as the "Space Shuttle Missions". Betweeen 1981 - 2001, 135 different shuttle missions were launched into space. During that era, 789 men and women travelled to space and tragically, a total of 14 astronauts would lose their lives in the Challenger and Columbia accidents.

Of those 135 successful missions, there is one particular one I would call your attention to. It's historical mission name was STS-61-C and it was the 24th shuttle mission flown.  It was also the seventh mission of the space shuttle Columbia and was manned by a seven person crew which included the second ever African-American shuttle pilot and the first Costa Rican astronaut in space.

However, the most significant distinction that this shuttle mission is remembered for is the fact that it almost never made it into space. In the now, almost, 70 years that we have been launching rockets into space, Mission STS-61-C holds the distinction of being the most delayed rocket launch of all time

On six different occasions, the crew was readied to be shoved into space only to endure long hours of delays that ultimately led to the cancellation of their launch. SIX TIMES. Its a record that would later be shared by the STS-73 Mission in 1995. The delays were caused by a variety of reasons. 

The launch was originally scheduled for 18 December 1985, but the closeout of an aft orbiter compartment was delayed, and the mission was rescheduled for the following day. However, on 19 December, the countdown was stopped at T-14 seconds due to an out-of-tolerance turbine reading on the right SRB's hydraulic system.

Another launch attempt, on 6 January 1986, was terminated at T-31 seconds because of a problem in a valve in the liquid oxygen system. The countdown was recycled to T-20 minutes for a second launch attempt on the same day, but was held at T-9 minutes, and then scrubbed as the launch window expired. Another attempt was made on 7 January, but was scrubbed because of bad weather at contingency landing sites at Dakar, Senegal, and Morón, Spain; yet another attempt, on 9 January, was delayed because of a problem with a main engine prevalve, and on 10 January, heavy rainfall in the launch area led to another scrub.

The good news is that the seventh time was the magic time. On January 12, 1986, at 6:56 EST, the rocket and shuttle finally soared into space. The photo of that launch is actually one of the most beautiful ever captured as you can see below.

Maybe you can relate to how all of those connected to this mission endeavor must have felt. From the shuttle pilot all the way down to the faceless thousands of others who anonymously gave their best to ensure a successul launch and return of the crew, it must have been crushing to learn the news of of yet another delay.

Life can be like that. There are as many reasons - probably many, more reasons - for the delays of launches in our lives as there were   for the crew of STS-61-C. The most important lesson to be drawn is this one - Delays Don't Determine Destiny.  Solomon wrote that God's people have a built in resiliency that is often greater than one may realize. Proverbs 24:16 states, "For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes". 

I want to be like that little boy who was staring at the escalator in the department store. A clerk came up to him and ask him if we had lost his mom or dad. He answered, "Not al all. I'm just standing here waiting for my chewing guy to come back around". 

Stay with it! Light the fuse! Dig In and become what we say in Texas - Double Dogged Determined to launch yourself into a new, exciting, challenging, and achievable orbit of success, blessing, and accomplishment.

Just remember the Journey Church motto while you wait - We never, ever, give up, give in, give out, or quit!


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