Ballistic Reentry

posted on October 18

I was amazed and grateful to hear the recent outcome of failed rocket booster in a journey that was supposed to carry NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin to the International Space Station. As I listened to the report, I braced myself to hear tragic news. I was so relieved to hear that they made it to earth safely, albeit in what is called a “ballistic reentry.” 
A “ballistic reentry” is a sudden plunge back into the earth’s atmosphere, sometimes descending hundreds of thousands of feet in only a matter of minutes. It’s more of a dive than a free-fall, and all communication can be lost during those crucial moments. You don’t know which way is up; all orientation is lost. You have planned for an energized ascent, and your experience quickly becomes a rapid descent. Astronauts train for such possibilities, and it is their course of action as well as their emergency equipment that allows them to survive such a re-entry.
I’ve never really compared ministry with space travel (although I think you could), but this idea gave me pause this week. Sometimes our work can include difficult reentries. We may have been climbing towards one outcome but be quickly propelled to earth by resistance. We may experience it if we have had some quiet time apart, a vacation, or Sabbath. Just when you think you have moved into a different spiritual atmosphere, you find yourself descending quickly into the details of ministry. Occasionally, we even experience “ballistic” reentries. Traumatic ministry circumstances, fighting against the gravity of human sin, can do that to us, and we wonder how we will become re-oriented. We wonder if we will ever “ascend” again.
In my mission (yes, there’s another space travel term) to serve our District, I have shared the simple equation thrive = strive revive. Sometimes in our striving, we do get a great deal of energy flowing, even enough energy to break out of our atmosphere and to the next level. It is not uncommon for disappointment, conflict, or other “mechanical failures” to quickly cause us to plummet. Remember your training, remember good communication, and remember your spiritual emergency equipment. There are resources that help us survive disappointments and even failures.  

Lean upon each other, and lean upon Christ, who knows both descent and ascent, and who cares for you at no matter what altitude you find yourself on any given day. Revive with proper care, just as Nick and Aleksey are receiving right now.