Anyone who has watched the Apollo 13 movie will remember the famous line.
“Houston we’ve had a problem.”
On April 11, 1970, Apollo 13 astronauts Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert blasted off on a mission to make NASA’s third lunar landing, but their ill-fated flight would make history for another reason.
"OK, Houston, we've had a problem here," said the Apollo 13 crew, just moments after a malfunctioning oxygen tank exploded, crippling their main spacecraft.
It was a communication beamed over 200,000 miles from space to mission control in Houston, Texas.
Faced with the prospect of their moon mission being aborted and the crew in danger, scientists scrambled to find creative solutions to enable the crew to return safely back to earth.
The subsequent inventiveness and comradery of those involved in the rescue mission was inspiring. Many lessons were learnt to enable safer space travel in the future.
Similarly, the threat of Covid-19 has motivated scientists to work feverishly to find ways to combat the pandemic, minimise deaths and the impact on our health systems.
This is another Apollo 13 moment where human inventiveness and spirit has had to come to the fore.
Car factories have been re-configured to make ventilators. Distilleries are making hand sanitiser. Lego factories are making face masks.
Hundreds of scientists around the world are working on vaccines, anti-viral drugs, blood plasma treatments to help curb the pandemic.
Some drugs are displaying very promising results completely destroying the Covid-19 virus in a test tube.
We must be cautious however since a human being is much more complicated than a test tube. A test tube does not have a heart, liver or kidney.
I have no doubt that at the end of this period we will see some huge scientific breakthroughs. We may even undergo a technological leapfrog with Covid-19 responsible for the digital transformation of many companies.
And in a bizarre sort of way, the problem that started in Wuhan, is causing us to reflect on our current way of life and ask some serious questions.
The lockdown has given many of us time to slow down and reflect and spend more time with God.
Churches expanded their congregations as they moved to live streaming and reached a greater audience.
We reduced the wasted time travelling to work.
We got the opportunity to be more creative or do something we always wanted to do.
We witnessed a huge reduction in pollution. Our streets were much emptier of cars enabling children to play safely in the street.
Birds returned to our cities and the sound of birds singing was greater than the sound of cars for a period.
We got to know our neighbours better. Keeping up with the neighbours took on a new meaning. Of showing an interest in their welfare, rather than having the best car or house in the street.
We walked more and spent more quality time with our family. Many families recommenced eating and watching movies together.
The non-emptying of recycling bins (in Wellington) forced us to think about the amount of waste we produce and how much we throw away.
We can also take heart that this pandemic is not a famine. There will be no food shortages once this is over.
This is not a physical war that is destroying our infrastructure. Our buildings, factories, highways, bridges etc remain intact.
The virus does not appear to be targeting the young or healthy people. Once the lockdowns were lifted the vast majority of us were able to return to work quickly.
Wuhan you have identified a problem
Some of us found the benefits arising from the lockdown attractive and compelling.
As we return to more of a normal life, do we want to see these benefits lost?
Some may find their previous very busy, stressful, goal driven, consumer way of life no longer as desirable as it once was.
The lockdown took away the noise and distractions of the world and gave us the opportunity to focus on what really is important. To appreciate the little moments in life and our creator.
As we enlarge our tents and resume normality, what can we do widen our sphere of influence in the world?
Enlarge the place of your tent,
Stretch your tent curtains wide;
Do not hold back;
Lengthen your cords,
Strengthen your stakes.
How can we communicate hope in a better way?
How can we do Church differently and more effectively?
Can we find more time for others?
Have we discovered something new about our self that we need to nurture?
Is there more we can do to help our neighbours?
Can we reduce waste and recycle more?
Lord I pray that each one of us will learn from this experience and be able to increase your Kingdom influence in the world.
Wayne Graham worked in the media for more than 30 years before leaving to follow a call to set up The Daily Encourager, a values based media showcasing the best of New Zealand society. He has a passion for Jesus, enjoys walking, ball sports, the arts and song writing.