A friend called that morning and said, "You should turn on the TV. An airplane just hit one of the World Trade Center towers." There was no file folder in my heart for what I was about to see. I quickly found a news channel. From that moment on, I didn't turn it off.
My wife and I - recently relocated after years in the New York area, friends with so many who work in Manhattan, occasional visitors to the observation deck atop the Trade Center - watched one horrific event after another unfold before our eyes. And when the towers collapsed in that killer cloud of dust, we couldn't contain the tears. Neither could the TV reporters who, for those gut-wrenching moments, lost their journalist's detachment and melted with all of us into stunned shock and disbelief.
And I prayed. Groping for what to pray, but pouring out my heart to God. Suddenly, I found myself praying, "O Lord, would You please help me see this through Your eyes? What are You seeing in this tragedy that's just too big for our hearts to handle?" In the hours that followed, I believe He answered my prayer. And what I saw - beyond the unspeakable events that raked our souls - has stuck with me these ten momentous years. Today, watching some deeply moving remembrances of the events at what would become our "Ground Zero," the echoes reverberate again in my heart.
Make Every Day Count With the People You Love
All those heart-rending cell phone calls from hijacked planes and burning buildings were pretty much about one thing - "I love you." Who could have known - who can know now - that this day might be your last day to be sure people know you love them. It's not good enough to just leave our dear ones on an "I love you until further notice" basis. Each of them needs to know it, and to feel it today. The psalmist said, "Teach us to number our days aright" (Psalm 90:1). Live - and love - like today is all you've got. Some day it will be.
Ask the "Make a Difference" Question
A lot of folks did after they saw so many lives end so suddenly before our eyes. "Am I just making a living or am I really making a difference?" People changed careers and life plans in light of the powerful wake-up call of September 11. With our life and the lives around us so very fragile, it's good to stop and weigh the most significant use of this one short life. The God who created us as "His workmanship...for good works He prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10) doesn't want us settling for less than our destiny. This weekend of remembering is a good time to be reflecting too - on the changes needed to be positioned to make the greatest possible difference with the rest of your life.
Life's Real Heroes Are the Rescuers
In the days that followed September 11, sports stars and paparazzi-ed celebrities were saying, "Don't call us heroes. Heroes are those guys who went into the flames and the rubble to save lives." All over the country this September 11, America will be honoring first responders - those who disregard their fears and forget about themselves to give someone a chance to live. Those are the kind of heroes heaven honors, too. A hero like that sees that their friends and loved ones who've never met their Jesus are "staggering toward slaughter" and "being led away to death" (Proverbs 24:11). God has one unmistakable command: "Rescue them." Tell them what you know about what Jesus did on the cross for them. Give them a chance to live - forever.
Be Ready For Eternity Whenever it Comes
More than anything, that's what screamed - and still screams - to me from the rubble of Ground Zero. We just can't count on tomorrow. That's why the Bible warns us plainly to "Prepare to meet your God" (Amos 6:1). Jesus is not a Savior you "get around to someday." Not when we live one heartbeat from eternity. Not when the only way to be ready to meet a holy God is to have every sin of your life erased by the only One who can. By Jesus, the only One who could - and who did - do the dying for all of our sin. So "whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). There is no greater peace, no greater security than to know for sure that you're ready for eternity whenever, and however, it comes.