Reflections from 9-11
The images of the tumbling towers of the World Trade Center will be forever etched in the minds of billions of people.
I was within an hour's drive from the Towers when I watched them crumbling on TV. I knew it was real, but I could not believe my eyes.
From August 30 through September 17, I was in all the cities associated with the tragedies: Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Newark, Manhattan and Boston. After September 11, I was able to participate in prayer meetings and share the pain and anguish of brothers and sisters in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Boston.
How should Christians react to such an inhuman act levied by humans against humans? Allow me to share with you how I am reacting to and coping with it.
I realize anew the frailty of human life and human accomplishment.
I never thought the towers would fall as I watched them in flames.
Even when my hostess, Jean, was wondering out loud if the floors above the burning flame would possibly topple, I did not think so. But they did, falling on their own weight and taking with them the lives of more than 6,000 people.
The towers were the earthly equivalent to the Titanic at sea. They were supposed to withstand wind gusts and earthquakes. But the rational minds of the designers were no match for the fanatical minds of the terrorists.
In a flash, the hopes and dreams of thousands were dashed and the lives of millions were forever changed.
I realize anew that human lives and actions are all interrelated. The action of one may affect the lives of all. In the killing of Americans, citizens from over 60 countries also perished. The single terrorist act against America will probably inspire others to become terrorists. Equally true, the resolve of President Bush and Americans will encourage others to join in the fight against terrorists wherever they are found.
The interrelatedness of human beings and the effects of one man upon many is taught in Romans 5:17, "For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." Paul is comparing the damage done by Adam and the gift of righteousness that came as a result of Jesus.
Since both good and evil have their rippling effects, it is important to do the seemingly insignificant single act of kindness, support and love. Both President Bush and New York Mayor Giuliani, among others, have encouraged everyone to resume their daily routine: work, play, spend money and hug their children. To show my faith in the future, I am keeping up with my pension investment program. In the days following September 11, there were indications that it was the small investors who demonstrated their patriotism by keeping their stocks.
As a person who has to fly often, I have decided to maintain my schedule. My emotions may be affected, but I will not allow my action to be altered. I may not be able to control my emotions, but I can determine my action.
Better yet, you may be able to do one better than carrying on with your normal routine. You may choose to be more regular in your church attendance, service and giving. You may want to give money, blood and time.
When my wife Maryann and I became US citizens in 1978, we received a US flag as a gift from a good friend of ours. We never displayed that flag before September 11. With the help of our neighbor, Maryann prominently displayed the "Old Glory" in front of our house when I was still in the Northeast.
I am sympathetic with Americans who have physical features that may resemble people from the Middle East as well as Muslims. It will be a long time before they can resume their normal life. One of my daughter-in-laws is a teacher. I was so proud of her when she told me that she made it a point to show special kindness to the one Arabic student in her class.
On September 11, several co-workers and I were driving to Danbury, Connecticut, to attend a previously scheduled prayer meeting. Being only an hour's drive from New York City, Danbury shared the nervousness of New York.
Many of the employees were asked to return home sometime in the morning.
As we were crossing over the Hudson River on I-84, we saw a sign that read
"God Bless America." The sign brought comfort and relief to my nervous heart; after all we were only about an hour's drive from ground zero and it was only several hours after the unthinkable attack on the WTC. Then a second thought came to me: can the Public Works Department of New York City use the word "God" in such a sign?
Together with prayer, God has been banned from public schools and public events. In times like these, where else can people turn to except to things that are closest and most meaningful to them: their family and their faith.
The September-11 event has a way of forcing God into our consciousness.
As a citizen of two countries: one earthly and one heavenly, my trust is in both. My loyalty to the United States has been known since 1978 when I became a US citizen and my heavenly citizenship was granted in 1961 when I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. I trust that the U.S. will show great restraint in the use of her military might and I know that God is slow to anger and quick to show mercy to anyone who is willing to turn to Him in repentance.
Earthly powers will shift and change, but the triune God who created the earth will remain the same: yesterday, today and forever. It is in this God I put my trust.