Dare mighty things

Many of you, like me, would have been transfixed a couple of weeks ago, as the latest Mars rover made its terrifying descent to the surface of the red planet — and the amazing technology which meant that we were able to watch it all live streamed on the NASA website.

As part of its journey, the descent of the craft carrying the Pioneer rover was slowed using a parachute. Keen eyed observers noted that the parachute was made up of a series of red and white panels, which, at first glance, just looked like a random pattern. However, some clever people quickly figured out that this pattern wasn’t random, but spelled out, in computer binary code, the words: “Dare mighty things”

To most of us, that phrase is unfamiliar- but this is the motto of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the organisation which leads on the Mars rover project. To attempt- and indeed achieve- such an amazing feat as sending a rhino- sized machine packed with sensitive scientific instruments 230 million miles, and safely landing it within 5 metres of its intended target, does indeed require a great deal of daring.

This got me thinking: the missionary pioneer William Carey, once said that, as followers of Jesus we are called to “Attempt great things for God- and to expect great things from God”. The Bible talks on a many occasions about God doing mighty things: I was drawn in particular to Psalm 118, where the psalmist says in v 16:

“The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”

Later in the Psalm, we find words which are quoted on a number of occasions in the New Testament as referring to Jesus:

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” (Ps 118 v 22, 23).

Dare mighty things isn’t a phrase which occurs in the Bible- but at the heart of the Christian message is the fact that God reached out, in a deed much mightier and way more daring than anything we could ever imagine, in sending his only son to be born as a little child, to live among us, to die the perfect sacrifice, and to rise again to show his victory over death. This is the message of Easter.

We may never be called to be involved in anything so spectacular as an interplanetary mission- but, when we follow Jesus, we are all called to dare mighty things for God- and to know that God has done mighty things for us.

by Dr Murdo Macdonald

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