Many years ago, I had an opportunity to visit the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. One of their exhibits was (and still is) a recreation of the Apollo 8 launch, which – for an engineer like myself – was particularly interesting. Among the various pieces of 1960’s technology is a big bank of light-up panels (on the wall to the left of the stations). As specific phases of the pre-launch sequence are executed, various lights are activated to signify the status of individual activities.
What caught my eye, though, was one of these panels that lit up close to lift-off. This panel just says, Commit. What is interesting is that this panel doesn’t light up right at T-minus-zero (the actual point of launch). Instead, it actually lights up around T-minus-seven seconds.
The way I look at it, we all look forward to liftoff, but at T-minus-seven seconds, that rocket is destined to go! Or, as Mission Control might say to the astronauts in the rocket, “You may not be taking off for another 7 seconds, but baby, you’re definitely going!”
God has made commitments to us, as well, even if some of them haven’t – from our time-bound perspective – taken place, yet. One of these is our eternal destiny. God promises that those of us who have sinned (which is all of us) and accepted Jesus’ payment for our sins (which could be all of us, if we’re willing to receive that gift) will spend eternity in Heaven.
Our life on this earth may not always (or maybe never) look like Heaven, though, so we might sometimes wonder if that better state will ever arrive. God doesn’t just ask us to take His word for it (although that would be enough). Instead, He has provided proof of that commitment, even before we get to Heaven, by giving us the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13-14 refers to the Holy Spirit as our “guarantee”:
And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Ephesians 1:13-14 NLT
We understand that a product’s guarantee is the manufacturer’s promise to make things right if there is a defect or problem. We live in a fallen world (i.e., one that is broken because humankind chose to break God’s rules for living ideally), but God will make things right. He cannot ignore our rebellion, but as Romans 3:26 says, God found a way to remain just (fair) while still being our justifier (restoring us back to a non-criminal state). He did so by paying the price for us breaking our relationship with Him.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 talks about the Holy Spirit as a pledge, or a deposit.
Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NASB
We may think of an engagement ring as a pledge – a promise for a future relationship. We may also make a deposit on something we’re about to purchase, promising that we’ll get the rest of the money later, but ensuring that no one else will snap up our new acquisition. In our human world, neither of those is an absolute certainty, but – unlike us – God is not fallible.
Ephesians 4:30 uses the idea of being “sealed”:
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30 NASB
We may not seal letters with wax and an imprint anymore. Instead, I think of “sealed” ( in this context) like a time capsule, which may be buried in the ground, or embedded in the cornerstone of a new building. It – like our souls – is protected and preserved until the time when it will be opened again in the future (to a world that has changed since the time capsule was sealed).
So, God has clearly made a commitment to those whose eternal destiny with Him has been established. In the same manner, we can commit to things that are important to us. For instance, in the past, I’ve agreed to go on short-term mission trips. Up to that point, my participation is just speculation and something that I might be interested in doing. Once I commit, though, “baby, I’m going!”, even if the actual trip might not be for several months.
Recently, I visited the Space Center again, this time with my family. When we entered this room, I got excited, because I remembered the “Commit” light. They, of course, had heard my story (probably many times) before, but I was finally able to share the experience with them. (My wife was kind enough to snap some pictures, on my behalf. I think that she gets credit for the photo in this article.)
I hope that you and I can share in the experience of entering into God’s eternal rest together, which He commits to us here on earth (once we have accepted His gracious offer). Until then, may we individually commit to all sorts of things that will bring many others to that great “liftoff” to Heaven, as well (1 Thessalonians 4:17).