Don’t fret because life’s joys are fled. There are more in front. Look up, press forward, the best is yet to be! – F.B. Meyer
In a space shuttle launch, the countdown is more than numbers on a clock. Each phase of the countdown is a preparation for the upcoming launch. The ten-second countdown is especially important. Piers Sellers, a veteran in space flight, describes his experience:
“At exactly 10 seconds before launch, all the navigation instruments go from a rest position to active, you can see that navigation is tracking, that it knows where it wants to take the shuttle. A few seconds after that, the main engines light. You can’t really feel or hear much at that point. You see the power come up on the indicators in the cockpit, you see the thrust go up from zero to 100% on three engines and then you feel the whole stack sway forwards towards your feet, and that is because the thrust of the engines is so great that it bends the shuttle and stack on its hold-down bolts, and pushes it to one side. They call that the twang. The twang goes all the way, about 4ft, and then the whole stack bounces back. And at exactly the right moment, zero, the solid rocket boosters light and the hold-down bolts explode and off you go. It feels as if someone lit a bomb underneath your back. You just go flying up into the air, like a gigantic hand pushing you up into the sky. You see the launch tower fall by down one side and you are headed upwards into the sky. There’s a tremendous feeling of power, there’s a lot of vibration, noise, people yelling over the radio, and you get the feeling there’s this 2,500-tonne ship going straight up. You are banging around in your seat, while everything is moving around, swaying around in the cockpit, trying to look at the instruments, trying to concentrate, but tremendously excited.”
Vitality Through Hope
The countdown to the new year in approximately two weeks won’t be in such a dramatic fashion, but I can imagine there is tremendous excitement regarding 2021. How would your life be if you never had the opportunity to move forward? To have a vision, dream, and set goals for personal growth? I would be of all people most miserable. Without hope, life is an endless loop of emptiness. Martin Luther King Jr. observed, “Everything done in the world is done by hope.” I believe hope ignites like the rocket boosters that send a space shuttle into the air. Hope lifts us off the ground, especially after seasons of difficulty that can leave us stagnant. “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all,” said King. 2020 has been an “all” kind of year. With all that has happened hope can seem a rare commodity in the face of all the surrounding problems. But hope gives us the courage to forecast with optimism in the face of despair and discouragement.
Every morning I check the weather forecast, especially in the fall and winter, which are often unpredictable. Looking at the weather forecast is only beneficial to the degree that I make adjustments accordingly. I may carry a jacket, an umbrella, or leave the house a few minutes early in the event of rain or snow. Without the weather forecast, I am at the mercy of the weather pattern for the day, leaving me drenched with rain or stuck in traffic.
Forecasting, in life, helps us make adjustments that will launch us in the direction we want to go in life. Forecasting compares to the inputs to the navigation system of a space shuttle. The inputs set the shuttle on its course after the launch. With no inputs, the shuttle launches but wanders aimlessly, runs out of gas, and crashes, having never reached its intended destination.
The goal of forecasting in life is to provide necessary inputs to create progress. And progress from forecasting occurs when we create goals in the major areas of our lives and take action. For example, one might make the input of choosing to grow in the area of self-development. This forecast or picture represents the desired future. From this forecast, a goal, reading one book a month, is created. The goal is further broken down into a daily routine or system of reading a chapter a day. This routine requires an adjustment of time each day to meet the goal, resulting in the forecast becoming a reality. Using the example provided, how can you create a forecast for the main areas of your life?
As the launch sequence approaches zero, astronauts are positioned appropriately for the pending lift off; their posture matters during the launch sequence. Your posture of thought is equally crucial as you prepare to launch into the new year. Your mentality directly affects your launch capability. In the days leading to the new year, what do you need to intentionally forget? Through the words of Paul in the Bible, “Forgetting the past and reaching forward to what is ahead…” (Philippians 3:13), I find the resolution that I cannot live my life in reverse, park or neutral. I must choose to go forward and drive. Forgetting requires mental effort. By freeing up space rented to regrets, disappointments, breakups, failures, shortcomings, and mistakes, you position your mind to focus on what is ahead.
Final Thought: At the time of this writing, there are fifteen days left until New Year’s Day. My mind is swirling as I ponder on what the new year brings. As you prepare to launch, consider the areas in your life where forecasting can prove helpful. It will keep you from wandering aimlessly through the year, wasting energy on what doesn’t matter, and crashing in regret at the end of 2021. Assess where a change in your posture of thought by forgetting some things frees you to focus on your future. May a new view launch you into a new year with the boosters of hope.
Keep on Keeping on!