At the risk of sounding like an unpatriotic scrooge, here are some thoughts as we remember the tragedy America experienced one year ago.
It is a time to reflect. As we did a year ago, we should stop to gain perspective on what is important, thank God for all He has given us, and adjust our lives to live for what matters.
It is a time to pray for those who continue to suffer. The tragedy brought irreparable damage to many, many lives and families. We must not forget them.
It is a time to remember those who acted sacrificially in service to others. We should applaud those who have acted as heroes during and after the tragedies. Those are people to thank and remember.
It is a time to praise God for all the good that has risen out of tragedy. We should celebrate the stories coming out of New York of people who have sincerely turned to God. God wants to use all things to pull people to Himself.
Some things have changed in the past year. Many things have not.
Though there was an initial increase in church attendance, the initial flood of people to churches in most of the country has long subsided. Human nature is to turn to God when threatened and neglect Him when the fear is gone. Who would have imagined anyone wanting to take the words “under God” out of the pledge of allegiance on September 12? Our society, by and large, is back to its old self-centeredness one year later. We want God on our terms, a heavenly sugar daddy instead of the holy God of the universe. God will only be in our lives on His terms. Sorry. Actually, no I’m not. He’s GOD! A very, very good God to those who love Him on His terms.
The messages God gave me on September 13, 2001 are still true. Why is the country stopping to remember those killed in the terrorist attack? May I propose that it is not so much because people died, but that we all feel violated by an outside attack? Because it affected us personally? Because it was so tragic? Because so many died so senselessly and suddenly? Because the planes exploded in places that we had visited? Because of the horrific nature and the vulnerability we all felt? Yes, yes and yes.
But wait. Almost a million and a half babies were killed last year. People in the US murdered one another to the tune of 15,500 people in 2000. Over 2,400,000 people died in the United States in 2000. Read that figure again – 2.4 MILLION. That figures out to about 6,500 people every day. Over twice the number of people killed in the attacks. Many of them are dying heroically – firemen and policemen and emergency workers and ordinary people acting in extraordinary ways. Where is the memorial for them? What about those “ordinary” people who day after day are good moms, dads, neighbors, co-workers, and friends?
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not minimizing what happened a year ago – just trying to put it into perspective. Truth is, Todd Beamer was a hero long before September 11 because, by all accounts, he was a Christian being a good dad, husband, neighbor and friend. That is a hero. So were many of the other folks who died. Some of the other folks were victims, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
God also told me, “There is something worse than dying – that is dying without a personal relationship with God and going to hell.” That is still true. I sense the urgency even stronger than a year ago. Those who went to heaven received the goal of this life, an eternity far beyond our wildest imagination. Even though the folks they left behind have a gaping hole in their lives, September 11 for those Christians was a magnificent, glorious, wondrous coronation day. That is not a tragedy, but a triumph that God desires for everyone. If Todd Beamer could return, oh, the wonders he would tell.
Those who died without a personal relationship with God through Jesus lost more than their lives; they landed in an eternity far worse than the most horrific pain of the burning building. Not everyone goes to heaven, only those who place their lives into God’s hands through Jesus. Dying was not the worst thing for those people – it was the beginning of the worst thing. Hell. Forever.
Life is preparation for eternity. If we have the relationship with Christ here, it is perfected in Heaven. If we refuse it, we lose everything in Hell with no second chances.
Perhaps part of what we felt and revisit today is the facing of our own mortality. I hope so. Life is short. Just ask any of the families of those who died. Life is too short to make the things that don’t matter into huge issues. SO STOP THAT!! Let God put things into perspective by turning to Him and trusting Him with your whole life. Then when death comes, it will be OK because it will be coronation day for you. It will more than OK, it will be tremendous, the culmination of all that we long for. It will be the best day of our lives. Really.
Please take some time to read and meditate on the following scriptures and spend some time in reflection on your life and your future.
""For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17 (NIV)
""Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 6 He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."" Revelation 21:3-8 (NIV)
""There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' 25 "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'" Luke 16:19-26 (NIV)