Every Thought Captive

October 9, 2008

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

1 Peter 1:6-12

Jack Swigert would never have willingly subjected his crewmates to the blood-boiling vacuum of space. Not only would their deaths mean his own death, but the nearly two weeks he, Jim Lovell, and Fred Haise had already suffered aboard the ill-fated Apollo 13 had only steeled his resolve to help get them back to earth. Never in his right mind would he even countenance the idea of separating the command module from the lunar module without all of them aboard the former and both sections securely sealed.

But Jack wasn’t in his right mind, and he knew it.

Days earlier, the thrill of an imminent moonwalk had plummeted into the devastation of knowing no such walk would take place. Their ship had buckled after an on-board explosion, and precious oxygen bled from their supplies. The only way for the ship to make it back to earth was to forgo the moon landing and conserve all the power they could. The crew would endure intense cold and immense stress, all while getting minimal rest.

That’s why in this moment, as the haggard threesome prepared for reentry, Swigert affixed a simple scrap of paper over the switch that would jettison the lunar module from the command module. And upon that makeshift Post-it note he scribbled a simple message: “NO!” With Lovell and Haise contributing to the effort aboard the lunar module, and with all three of them working almost exclusively on adrenalin, their propensity to commit egregious blunders of judgment was high. For Swigert, prematurely jettisoning his crewmates was a conceivable possibility; his fatigue, he said, made him “punchy.” The note served to prevent that.

Jack Swigert’s action epitomized the notion that even the simplest truths need to be at our mental fingertips. Otherwise we risk acting in ways contrary to sense when trials tempt us to react impulsively.

The apostle Peter reminds these persecuted exiles of simple, foundational truths. They were truths that the sheer tumult of the trial could’ve easily wiped from their individual and corporate consciousness. If they lost sight of them, they too were prone to act rashly—returning to old ways, mimicking the ways of their surroundings, or responding in ways that would bring them and Christ dishonor. Only a deep-seated familiarity with those truths would, with the Spirit’s mysterious help, enable them to respond rightly to persecution (1 Peter 3:8ff), to those in authority (2:13ff), to their own spouses (3:1ff), to anyone who took issue with their hope (3:13ff).

What truths from His Word need to be at your mental fingertips these days?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Why are you downcast, o, my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:5)

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:9,10)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

And He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:15)

Might these and other truths need to be so readily accessible (i.e., memorized) that when trials or threats of any kind come, you are left with something more than your own wits to confront a difficult season of life?

About the Author

Photograph of Patrick Lafferty

Patrick Lafferty

Senior Pastor

Grace Mills River Church in Mills River, NC

Patrick Lafferty, Pastor of Grace Mills River Church in Mills River, NC, grew up in Houston, received his undergraduate degree in liberal arts from the University of Texas at Austin, and his ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS).

He is married to Christy. They have four children: Seamus, Savannah, Bella (deceased), and Jedidiah. Patrick and his family have a love for dancing, good stories, good food, good music, all things Irish, and raising chickens for their eggs.