Dear Christians of America,
I wake up early. It’s 6 a.m. and my alarm clock is ringing beside my head. I’m groggy but I pull myself together and head down the stairs. It’s Bible study time for my big kids. I sit for a moment to compose my thoughts and start with the date. Today is not like any other day. Today is a day that will live in my mind forever. Today is September 11th.
We read our Bible study – which today happens to be about being ready to share the Gospel…the Gospel of Peace. We read together Ephesians 6:15, “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” And I stop and think.
The air feels thick as I explain that today our normal studies will be put aside so that we can fully understand what this day is. We bow our heads to pray. We pray today a slightly different prayer. We pray for our enemies. We pray for those who come up against us. We pray for those who wage war against us. We don’t just pray for peace. We pray that their hearts will be turned to Jesus.
A bit later in the morning we turn on the TV and see our Vice President speaking. He is speaking to a group of people in a field somewhere in Pennsylvania. We stop and listen. We are mere observers.
I gather my children. The big ones snuggle up on the couch while the little ones play at our feet. None of these kids were born the day this tragedy happened.
I was still a newlywed – only being married a year. I wonder at this – that an entire generation of people exist who never witnessed this horrific time in our nation’s history. A huge part of our population – many even teenagers now – will never understand what this means or how it changed us unless we teach them.
So we talk. We watch a documentary. It is easy to want to shield our children from the tragedies that we’ve witnessed, but this is history.
This is OUR history.
This isn’t just a picture in a textbook – this single day caused a transformation in the lives of so many.
This day didn’t change my life in the same way it changed others.
I didn’t lose a brother or a sister, a husband or a son that day. I didn’t get a phone call that I never wanted to hear. I was only a young college student staring at my TV screen as the second plane hit and the smoke filled the air.
I was simply a young adult who didn’t know much and quite frankly didn’t quite comprehend what this fully meant as I heard the news of the third and fourth planes.
I watched as the reporters ran frantically down the streets of New York City. They were running for their lives against a cloud of smoke ready to consume them.
I saw the devastation, I heard the stories. In the coming days and weeks I understood more of what this meant for us as a nation. I knew one thing – this day changed me as it changed my generation.
No longer was I just a girl with all my life ahead of me. That fateful day in September molded all of us into new people. People that realized how fragile our lives were. People that somehow were birthed into a new world – a world where freedom truly isn’t free. A world where our ignorance and our complacency couldn’t exist side by side our courage and honor any longer.
We were young. We were full of hope. In an instant we were turned inside out and forced to break the glass to look into a reality that was far grimmer than we ever thought possible.
We were changed into a group of people that were bonded together. A group who stood next to each other… people that we had never met but now were our brothers and sisters. We stood taller – stronger – because somehow through the heartache and the loss we somehow understood love in a whole new way.
Our love for our neighbor grew. Our love for our families grew. I saw tangible changes in the way others lived out their lives.
Many decided they wanted to have children sooner rather than later. There was a sense of urgency to life.
Others dove into missions. Many joined the military in order to serve their country.
But even further, people listened to each other. Many didn’t want to waste time. They wanted to celebrate life.
They realized, now, in the face of uncertainty, that life was a precious gift. They understood there were no guarantees. They realized that we had taken for granted the only thing that ever mattered here on earth. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
That day we were sprung into a world at war.
This war that we had been forced into wasn’t just a war against terrorism or a war against a certain man. It wasn’t just a war between Good and Evil. We were in a sneaky war. A war of a different kind. It was a slow war that while raging in our hearts, crept up behind us. This war sought one thing and that was to win back our innocence. Our world would never be the same but somehow we longed for the days of September 10th. The days that could be simple and easy again.
And slowly but surely our nation has wondered back into the territory that we dangerously lived in before. Somehow things became the same. We got comfortable.
We have clawed our way back into an ignorant idealism where we put ourselves first and everyone else second.
And I look around me, in the world where we are raising these precious gifts and I see now so clearly what I couldn’t see yesterday.
We live in a world where we want more – never satisfied with what we have.
We worry about things like vacations and birthday parties.
We fret that we haven’t made life fun for our children.
We plague ourselves and other moms with guilt because we aren’t perfect enough.
We fight over our fair share and forget why we are here in the first place.
We try to make our name great instead of His who sent us.
We yearn for things we want and fail to look to Him who can provide all of our needs.
We are no longer united. We are a country in turmoil.
We fight over politics, money, sports.
We don’t argue with respect and honor under our belt but we fight like two squabbling children who are in a brawl at the playground.
We seek to tear each other down and not to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
We don’t seek to understand. We choose sides til the death.
Instead of turning the other cheek, we pull up our other fist, ready to fight, ready with an answer – but never the right answer. We have forgotten where we have come. We have forgotten that heartbreaking road in which we walked not too long ago. It seems the further we walk, the more we forget.
We have forgotten that there is only one true enemy. The rest are just casualties of this war.
And so I wonder, Lovers of Christ, are we ready? Are we lacing up our sandals of readiness to share the Gospel of peace?
What would our life look like if we lived with the shadow of September 11th looming over one shoulder and the cross of Christ over the other?
Would we love any differently?
Would we give differently?
Would we live differently?
For this reason, I think we need to stop taking this day for granted but we need to stop everything else and remember. We must remember and pass this along to the next generation. Because forgetting comes at too great a cost.
Your Sister in Christ