The Reference Point

On day six of the ill-fated mission of Apollo 13, the astronauts needed to make a critical course correction. Apollo 13 liftoff-KSC-70PC-160HR

If they failed, they might never return to Earth.

To conserve power, they shut down the onboard computer that directed the spacecraft. However, the astronauts needed to conduct a 39-second burn of the main engines. The question was, how would they steer?

Astronaut Jim Lovell determined that if they could keep a fixed point in view through their small window, they could steer the craft manually. That focal point turned out to be their destination – Earth.

As recorded in the 1995 hit movie Apollo 13, for 39 agonizing seconds, Lovell focused on keeping the earth in view. By not losing sight of that reference point, the three astronauts avoided disaster.1

Psalm 147:15 expresses, “He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly.”

In the Hebrew, “word” is dabar, meaning “a saying or an answer.”2

In times of indecision and danger, we must focus on the Word of God as our reference point.

Amy Carmichael stated, “Once when I was climbing at night in the forest, I learned the meaning of God’s Word being a ‘lamp unto my feet.’ I had a lantern, and I had to hold it very low, or I should certainly have slipped on the rough rocks. We don’t walk spiritually by electric light, but by a hand lantern. And a lantern shows only the next step – not several ahead.”3

“The unfolding of your Words gives light” (Psalm 119:130, NIV).


  1. Dutch Sheets, God’s Timing In Your Life, Published by Regal Books, A Division of Gospel Light, Ventura, CA, U.S.A., 2001, p. 54
  2. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong, S.T.D., LL. D., Royal Publishers, Inc., Nashville, TN, 37203, Dictionary of the Hebrew Bible, #’s 1696 and 1697, p. 29
  3. From The Next Step, in Candles In The Dark: Letters Of Amy Carmichael, 1981 The Dohnavur Fellowship; Triangle, SPCK, London, England, 1981; Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, PA, 1982, (and) Decision Magazine, October 2002