I was pastoring a church in Marion Indiana in May 25, 1961 when John F. Kennedy announced the United States should put a man on the Moon in 10 years. Many of my friends, family and church members believed God wouldn't allow such a thing to happen. I told them God was much more concerned with the morals of America than he was with man walking around on a lifeless, dead rock like the moon. I still believe that is our major concern.Early one morning several years ago I got a phone call from a Pastor friend. He wanted us to come to his church, play the piano and help with the music. We got there just as the service was starting. After the music, Pastor Will Fisher introduced the speaker for the morning service.
He was Air Force Brigadier General Robert Stewart. While at NASA, he flew two space shuttle flights. On STS-41B along with Bruce McCandless he conducted the first orbital flight tests of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), the first untethered extra-vehicular activity from a spacecraft in flight. He said: "It's an incredible experience being all alone, 1,000,000 feet above the earth, traveling at nearly 17,500 mph".
Traveling all over the world, being a Missionary Pilot, doing Medical projects in the Amazon Jungle, and preaching in some of the largest churches on earth I've met many famous and wealthy people. I soon learned that they were just ordinary people who did incredible things. When I talked to General Bob Stewart after the service he asked me to come to his parents home and talk with him.
I was impressed by all the life-sized photos of him, Presidential citations, and many other awards that covered the walls of his parents home. His distinguished accomplishments and academic education and experience as a test pilot was obvious and amazing.
Of course I wanted to know all about his incredible space travel. We talked a little about that but what he really wanted to talk about for well over two hours was his "spiritual experiences" and what God wanted him to do with the rest of his life."
Many of Astronauts have had deep, personal, spiritual experiences after walking on the moon or flying in outer space. Some of the most intelligent and best educated people in the world know they need more than "success." They recognize the amazing intelligence and creative genius of God who created the heavens and the earth.
I was asked one day by a multimillionaire if he could have an encounter with God without all of the ceremonies and rituals of a church service. I assured him that it was something between him and the Lord. "You can pray and talk to God anywhere, just like you are talking to me, I told him. Just make sure it's sincere". He didn't make any reply and I felt I shouldn't say anymore. (That's extraordinary for a preacher...) I knew I had said enough. I'm sure he found the Lord.
This is not a put down for having "church." I've also seen many people have a wonderful spiritual transformation in church during revival meetings, or just in an ordinary church service. You don't have to be an astronaut to get God's attention.
Any time or anywhere we pray sincerely, God listens!