We are not a patient people, and waiting is one of the things we do least well. The traffic light that seems stuck against us, the computer that fails to respond instantly, the line in the supermarket... each of these sets us on edge, doesn’t it? How about a five year wait?
I am referring, of course, to the incredible photos of Jupiter that NASA scientists have been displaying with tantalizing pride. As we admire them, we need to remember that the probe responsible for them was sent into space five years ago, and the team involved has been tracking it and making last minute adjustments across space for that length of time.
I know they couldn’t have been holding their breath literally, but how many hours of doubt must they have experienced as they waited and waited for Juno to be pulled into orbit around Jupiter. At the news conference that relayed the stunning announcement, the director laughingly tore up the pages of apology that he had ready had that probe failed to respond to the final directions. Now he can laugh. Had Juno missed the mark things would have been dismal.
What a lesson for us “instant” people to take to heart. I confess that I had totally forgotten that launch five years ago. My days have been filled with more pressing issues. How God must have smiled on that team of scientists as they waited and wondered, and, perhaps, prayed across the vastness of space. “Now,” says God, ”you can perhaps better grasp why you and I are in different time zones. I hear your prayers and I do answer, but you sometimes have to wait.”
There are spiritual lessons for sure in the wonder of a space probe.