I remember that day as if it were yesterday; the day millions of people watched in horror as terrorism lifted its ugly head in our country, our one nation under God.
And as the towers fell and planes crashed, the cries from all of us resonated through the restaurants, through our offices, through the streets, in the middle of the storm, “Oh God! No!”
“God! oh God! Why?”
I believe it is a part of our soul – to cry out to God – whether literally or as a sign of shock. It is a need placed deep within us, even when some people don’t recognize it. While everyone wanted to do something, no one knew what exactly needed to be done. We did what we knew to do, cry 9-1-1 to God.
Today marks the anniversary of that horrific day when our foundations were shaken and the accustomed coveted safety was removed.
When I was a little boy, there was a train which ran through the centered of our town. Every morning at 6:15am and every evening at 5:31pm whether you were going to work or coming home, our lives revolved around the schedule of that train. Day after day, week after week, month after month, we heard the whistle as the force of the entourage of railroad cars barreled down on our little town. But one day, in mid-December, an impatient group of teenagers in a pick-up truck tried to avoid the wait. 4 people where killed as the sounds of metal colliding resonated in the town square.
I arrived with my father on the scene some 20 minutes later. He was taking me to baseball practice, and being a minister, he pulled over to help and pray.
Over and over I heard the words, “Where was God? How could a loving God allow this to happen?”
I sat down on the edge of the cement side walk and cried. I didn’t know what else to do.
An older lady came and sat with me. She knew my dad and mom. “Could she help?”
As I wiped the tears covering my young face, I asked her, “Why did God let this happen?”
I remember her hand reaching for mine and the way her arthritic joints felt against my fingers.
“Every morning and every afternoon that train has come through the heart of this town. That whistle has blown and the feel of the rumbling tracks has shaken the very ground we’ve walked on. How many times did we thank Him that nothing happened each day? Tragedy will strike, usually because someone makes a bad decision; but, every day that it doesn’t show itself, I am so grateful to God.”
We are quick to blame and slow to be thankful for that which goes unnoticed. As I’ve grown older, I understand more and more what that older lady meant. Thousands upon thousands of planes take off and land all over our world seconds apart from one another. How often do we recognize the safety He affords us? How many times do we acknowledge His glorious right hand?
What was meant to destroy us, God used to unite us as a country. On this day, 15 years later, we must remember the beauty of the people of America; the sacrifice of those who took the plane down in a field in Pennsylvania to save our Capitol; the rescue workers and volunteers who came on the scene to reduce the number of fatalities; and the brave men and women who lost their lives because of terrorism. We must remember what it means to be American.
Now more than ever we must ask ourselves, what are we doing to change lives, to make people whole again, to influence and impact His Kingdom, and to help define a generation of believers.