I remember September 11th, 2001 receiving a news bulletin from CNN saying that a small airplane may have crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. It was one of those “I’m sorry for thinking that” moments when I recall all the cynical things going through my mind at the time.
My dad was visiting and we were going to the flea market, 20 minutes from home. During our drive to the market, I mentioned the news about the “idiot who crashed into the tower” earlier that morning. The gravity of the day did not hit, even when we started hearing more about the towers from people at the market. We continued to walk around, until we saw a crowd gathered at one of the booths. Someone had a TV playing a live news broadcast. We stood at the fringe of the small crowd, watching the towers burn and crash to the ground.
Someone said that they were going to close the schools. We had to quickly get back to the house, to be there for the kids when they got off the bus. I still see the horror on everyone’s faces at the market as we all dropped what we were doing to tend to our highest priorities. All day the phone lines were overloaded as we all tried to get a dial tone to call loved ones.
I was not comfortable seeing and feeling the fighter jets screaming up and down the coast and the A10 Warthogs and Apache helicopters continue the patrols for weeks later. We made a plan to leave if the action got too close. I remember my fear, the silence on the streets, tending to priorities, not knowing, not understanding - just waiting.
We watched the news all night and saw firsthand the tragedy - the dust, the faces, and cries of “Oh my God!”
I was crushed, hearing the stories of the first responders who rushed in while others were rushing out. Entire squads were lost - my heart broke as I imagined the grief of their families.
Loved ones of the lost taped pictures to walls and windows around ground zero, unwilling to give up hope. Within hours, crowds of fearless, determined people gathered to rescue those buried alive in that massive pile of smoldering rubble. Truckloads of donated food and water lined the streets as the entire nation fought for the cause. Crowds cheered the brave heroes along the way, encouraging the rescue workers, hoping and praying for one more to be found alive. America wept and cheered.
And then the work suddenly stopped. Every worker from every trade froze in place. The jack hammers – silent. The welders and torches – silent. Every engine, every voice paused, as each flag draped body made its way from the debris onto the street.
The president grabbed a bullhorn, shouting, “We will find those who are responsible!”
The places of worship were overwhelmed with people yearning to seek the truth and change their priorities.
I remember a nation united.
The first attacks on Afghanistan brought with them the new words Taliban and al-Qaeda. This was a new kind of war. We were not fighting a country with borders, but an idea. Their idea is that sinners must be eradicated and killing them deserves reward. That’s what brought about the attack on 9/11.
On that day, 19 terrorists selfishly committed suicide in hate for something they believed in, and changed the world in a negative way. 2000 years ago, Jesus chose 12 men who unselfishly gave their lives in love, and changed the world in a dramatic and positive way. Which way is right?
I have concluded that this is a spiritual battle, one that has already been fought and won. Remember what Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” - John 15:13. Jesus did just that. He laid down His life on the cross in love, for a world full of sinners. He died for those who believe in Him, but He also died for his enemies, those who drove the nails into His hands and feet and Yes, He even died for the sins of the terrorists, so that they might believe. Jesus preached to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44
Remember, 100 years from now when we have passed into infinity- “now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” - 1 Corinthians 13:13
Now, more than ever, we must unite in love.
Pastor Jay Merritt writes about God in every day observations.