Living life to the full or just existing?
This is not a joke: Two astronauts walk into a space rocket. One finds existence, the other finds life in all its fullness. How about you? Buzz Aldrin was the second man to walk on the moon: he should have been the first.
Apparently, even with all the careful and precise preparation for the first moon landing, no one at NASA had quite thought through how the door would open for Buzz and Neil Armstrong to exit the lunar landing vehicle. It transpired that Armstrong had to get out of the module first before Aldrin could shut the hatch, manoeuvre himself across into the other seat, re-open it and then get out himself.
After returning to Earth, Aldrin spent many years living a life that was spiralling downwards. He went through a couple of marriages, became alcohol dependent, spent time in rehab and at one point was so broke he took a job selling second hand cars. Now in his eighties, Buzz has somewhat recovered and lives reasonably well, making a living from lectures and media appearances.
In contrast, James Irwin was an astronaut on the Apollo 15 moon landing in 1971. He was the eighth person to take those giant steps in limited gravity. Shortly after he made it back, Jim set up a Christian ministry called The High Flight Foundation.
He said “I feel the Lord sent me to the moon so I could return to the earth and share his Son, Jesus Christ.” He died in 1991 after suffering a heart attack, but not before influencing many people to examine the Christian Faith.
What is interesting about these two men is this; they both had the same experience, but their response to it was very different.
When we look at the events of Easter, can you imagine how many people experienced the crucifixion on that first Good Friday?
Large crowds watched Jesus suffer and die. They heard him breathe out forgiveness on them and his executioners. They saw the sky turn black. They heard about the curtain in the temple being torn from top to bottom. All these people had the same experience and yet so few understood how to respond.
Can I ask; what is your response? No doubt sometime during Easter you will find yourself in a gathering singing “Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all!” Have you surrendered to that ‘demand’?
The apostle Paul expressed what our response should be in these words:
“ … And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2Cor 5:15)
You may have heard and experienced a lot about the Cross – but what is your response?
By late afternoon on the first Easter Sunday, the word had spread around the whole city that the grave was empty. Many had no doubt seen the now vacant tomb; they had heard the testimonies of some who had actually seen him alive again. So many experienced this moment. Sad, then that not everyone responded in a positive way.
Every time we meet together as the people of God, the living Lord Jesus is there. He promised it and we are often tangibly aware of the reality of that promise – but what is your response? What have you done with the One who has defeated death, hell and all of the dark powers in the Universe?
Truthfully, the only proper response is surrender.
Perhaps once again, or for the very first time, this Easter, you can commit to giving all of yourself up to Him. Peter, one of the Lord’s closest friends said that the living Jesus was now “Lord and Christ”, meaning that he is the one to whom we surrender our lives and through whom we find true freedom.
James Irwin famously said:
“It is more important that Jesus Christ walked on the earth than man walked on the moon.”
If Jesus hadn’t lived, died and now lives again we would all be in Buzz Aldrin’s situation of just trying to make a living rather than finding the amazing gift of eternal life.