On February 1, 2003 Americans were horrified to learn that the Space Shuttle Columbia, on its 28th mission, disintegrated into a ball of flaming debris.
Little is Important
As it reentered the earth’s atmosphere it exploded, killing all seven of its crew. This catastrophe actually began sixteen days earlier, just after liftoff. Shortly after its launch, a piece of foam insulation from the Shuttle’s external fuel tank broke loose and struck the underside of Columbia’s left-wing, damaging several of its protective ceramic tiles.
Every Space Shuttle was covered with nearly 31,000 protective tiles. Through a painstaking process, each of these tiles had to be individually glued in place and held in place by special clamps until the glue dries. The loss of just one tile could spell doom during reentry. This was the case for Columbia. The loss of just a few protective tiles allowed super-heated gases to penetrate and melt Columbia’s aluminum frame.
The Columbia disaster also served to show just how important every individual component of this complex machine was—no matter how small among so many. The Space Shuttle consisted of 2.5 million parts, including 1,000 plumbing valves, 1,400 circuit breakers, and 230 miles of wire. The failure of just one of these could spell disaster. But, when everything worked as it should, the Shuttle became the most powerful spacecraft in the world. It generated more than 44 million horsepower or the equivalent to 15,000 locomotives or 23 Hoover Dams. But this incredible power and the stressors of liftoff, space, and reentry require that every single component must perform flawlessly. Only then could its mission be successful and its crew survives. The Columbia disaster so painfully illustrated this point.i
Everyone is Important
The same is true in the unforgiving trials and challenges of life. Every member of a team, church, or organization is supremely essential to the success and survival of the whole. All members of the team must perform their specialized function and pull together in the same direction—if we are to succeed and survive.
Fortunately for human systems, people have the capacity of covering for each other. If one person becomes incapacitated or otherwise fails, others can step in to help carry the burden—but only so far. Any team, organization, or country will self-destruct if too many of its members fail to do their part. This is why the same Scripture that commands, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ,” also says, “Each one must carry his own load” (Galatians 6:2, 5).
Dear Father help my organization to pull together and help each of us to do our part. Bless us, O Lord, with unity of purpose and mind and help us to care for one another. Amen.
i “Modern Marvels,” The History Channel, Volume 8.