Thirty-two years ago today, on January 28, 1986, Christa McAuliffe was set to embark on a historical and incredible journey. She had won a competition that earned her the right to be part of the seven-member crew on NASA’s Challenger space shuttle. McAuliffe, who was a New Hampshire high school social studies teacher in her late thirties, was to be the first regular civilian and non-astronaut to be included among the few who have ventured into space. After months of training, anticipation, flight delays, and likely many anxious nights, McAuliffe and the rest of the Challenger crew were finally approaching the time of departure.
From the launch site in Cape Canaveral, FL, with the countdown completed, at 11:38 a.m. EST, lift-off commenced. What began as an important mission into space and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a young woman like McAuliffe, would quickly turn into an unimaginable scene. Seventy-three seconds into the flight disaster struck. With friends, family, and space enthusiasts watching on the ground, and millions more around the U.S. tuning in on television, the Challenger space shuttle disintegrated in mid-air. To the horror of everyone involved there were no survivors, nor were there any remains. It was as if they just vanished. In just seventy-three seconds, McAuliffe and the rest of the crew went from thinking about adventure and making history, to having it all come to an abrupt end.
What if you only had seventy-three seconds left on earth? Would you be satisfied with the things you have done in your life? Scripture says, “you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and vanishes away” (James 4:14). If you had just seventy-three seconds would you still worry about the problems of tomorrow? Might you desire to show those closest to you how much you love them? Most importantly, how would you feel about your service to the Lord, to His church, and to the lost? Is there a friend, family member, or neighbor you wish you would have shared the gospel with? How much different would we live our lives if we recognized that our time could be up in seventy-three short seconds.