Friday, September 9, 2011

Lessons From 911

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe...  
(Hebrews 12:28, NIV)

Like so many of us, I remember that day like it was yesterday.  I had just dropped off my daughter for kindergarten at her private Christian school.  I returned home to my chores.  I heard the news on the radio as I was making my bed and tidying the room.  Originally, they thought it was a CESNA that had hit Tower 1.

"It really is a sight to see," the radio announcer out of Madison proclaimed.  "If you're near a TV you should turn it on."

I did.  And my life was forever changed.  Weren't all of ours?  I remember shouting out my bedroom window to my next door neighbor who was in her backyard, telling her what was happening.  Shortly after, I watched in disbelief as I witnessed the second plane hit on live television.  There were rumors of dozens more planes missing from radars, leading citizens to believe that the hijackings were massive.  The Pentagon was hit.  The plane in Shanksville, Pennsylvania crashed.  All flights were grounded, including that of a dear friend who was home visiting from out of state.  She was stranded indefinitely at my house.  It felt like the world was going to end that day.

All I wanted was to get my girl home from school and hold her close.  I worried about access to life-saving medication for my son who was not quite a year-and-a-half old at the time.  I couldn't hear my husband's voice often enough over the phone.  Love of family reigned supreme on that day.

Now, a decade later, though the horror is as fresh to me as that of watching the first spire sink in implosion, I realize there are many powerful and positive lessons born from the tragedy.  Of course, without thought, priorities are quickly straightened out when the focus is turned towards survival.  The treasure of each person you know and love surfaces in humble gratitude.

Then there are inspirational stories like that of Michael Benfante who, along with a co-worker carried Tina Fansen down 68 stories in her wheelchair to safety right before the building collapsed.  Through his selfless act of kindness, he affirmed the value of every life, proving each worthy saving.

Additionally, there is the unity of the people at this time.  I remember peacefully coming together with an adversarial neighbor as we listened to Billy Graham's sermon on the radio during the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance a mere 3 days after the attack.  Church attendance around the nation increased.  And people returned to our only Sure Foundation.

As our troops eventually deployed, I even recall meeting at the entry to our subdivision where neighbors gathered to hold hands and pray.  We were truly "One nation, under God."

So what is the take-away from these memories a decade later?  I believe it is still, "...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land," (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV)  And, "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity," (Colossians 3:12-14, NIV)  We need these Christian attitudes and behaviors every bit as much as we did the day this nation was attacked.  Let us not fail to live this way and boldly share this message with others every day that we are granted on this earth.

PRAY:  Father, the shock and horror of September 11, 2001 left us with such transformed attitudes and behaviors.  Sadly, so many of those have faded over the past decade.  Help us to return to those values and live them out in humble, obedient gratitude without having to ever go through a national tragedy like this again.

~ Barb Dittrich

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