Fifty years ago this week, astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered what remains one of the most iconic statements in history—apart from Scripture—“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and Apollo 11 Lunar pilot Buzz Aldrin became the first people to land on the moon and the next day spent 2 1/2 hours outside the spacecraft while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the Command Module. The three were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon, and later also received a Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
Neil Armstrong’s first moon walk and inspirational statement were the product of a huge team effort. It resulted in the accomplishment of an amazing feat that went beyond what seems humanly possible. Space travel was not unique when the three astronauts blasted off from Cape Canaveral in July 1969, but at that point, nobody had landed or walked on the moon. Any number of things could have gone wrong. Since many scientists are evolutionists and believe in a universe that about five billion years old, there was a great concern about landing in 40-50 feet of meteoric dust on the moon’s surface. What a pleasant surprise—and evidence for a recent creation no more than 10,000 years ago—when they landed on a mere 1/8 inch of dust!
Armstrong, a committed Christian, put his faith and fate in God’s hands and in the God-given abilities of the vast team that made his personal achievement possible as the first human to set foot on the moon. But more than two decades later Armstrong walked somewhere else that he considered more significant than his moon walk. Perhaps the most under-reported story about Armstrong concerned his visit to Israel in 1994. He was taken on a tour of the old city of Jerusalem by Israeli archaeologist Meier Ben-Dov. When they got to the Hulda Gate, which is at the top of the stairs leading to the Temple Mount, Armstrong asked Ben-Dov whether Jesus had walked here. “These are the steps that lead to the Temple,” Ben-Dov told him, “so He must have walked here many times.” Neil asked if those were the original stairs and Ben-Dov confirmed that they were indeed. Armstrong responded: “I have to tell you, I am more excited stepping on these stones than I was stepping on the moon!”
The secular world remembers Armstrong as an aerospace engineer, a Navy Fighter pilot, a university professor and, of course, the first man in history to walk on the moon. But those who were closest to the famous astronaut—his widow, Carol, his two sons, Eric and Mark, his brother and sister, and his Christian family—remember Neil Armstrong as a man of faith.
Neil Armstrong died Aug. 26, 2012—a great American and devoted Christ follower. Of course, you wouldn’t know about his Christian faith from the obituaries in the liberal media, nor would you know he loved the Lord from the perfunctory tribute offered by President Obama. But, Armstrong’s life cannot be told without mentioning his walk with Christ. More important to him than even his walk on the moon or walking where Jesus walked, was his walk with Christ in his daily life, and to hear from His Master upon arrival in heaven, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of the Lord” (Mt. 25:21).
No matter how great your accomplishment in this life, no matter what accolades the secular world gives you, what really matters is your walk with Christ and the spiritual legacy that you leave behind. What will those closest to you—your family, co-workers—remember about you? “There’s only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” What on earth are you doing for heaven’s sake?