9/11 Remembered

I remember 9/11 vividly. I came into my social studies class, and sat down in my assigned table with three girls with names close to mine in the alphabet. That is how we were organized in 7th grade. The TV was on, and the question I asked my classmates was “Is this a scene from a movie?”. I was 13 years old, and the words “Terrorism, terrorist, Radical muslim, osama bin laden, Al Qaeda, etc” were not in my vocabulary. It wasnt real. The scene, the mood. It all seemed so unbelievable to all of us that I think we could not comprehend it at the time. Concerned parents came to pick up their kids, but for the most part, life carried on in my own little world. (To prove how naive I was, my greatest frustration with 9/11 came when the SEC announced that all games for that weekend would be postponed and moved to the end of the season.)

Although I did not realize it at the time,  the attacks of that day signaled a tectonic shift in the foundation of American life. Like most people, I had my questions.
How could this happen to us? We are the United States, things like this are not supposed to happen. Who did it? What are we going to do next?
9/11 truly changed everything. The attacks injected fear into most of America. A fear we had never felt before. New words were inserted into every day conversations. New security measures were put into place. We had been hit hard, by an enemy that the average American had never even heard of, in one of our greatest cities.
It has been 10 years since that day, and needless to say I have learned a lot. I think it is important to reflect and consider the lessons that we learned from 9/11.
1) Security and control are an illusion
 Control is defined as “The power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.
Security is defined as “The state of being free from danger or threat.”
9/11 taught us that security and control are illusions. We perceive that they exist, but in reality, they do not exist. We feel secure, and we feel in control, but they simply do not exist. You can attempt to control your own little world, but I can assure you of this: one day something will happen which will wreck your world, and you wont know what to do. That is why it is so important to allow God to control your life. Read Job 38 (link here) and try and tell me that you are in control of your life.
As for security, the question is how do you define security? What does security mean in your life? Does security mean having a lot of money? Does security mean having a lot of power?
The truth is, security on this earth does not exist. Are you ever completely “free from danger or threat” while on this Earth?
No.

The only security that matters is knowing that your soul is secure for eternity by the blood of Jesus Christ.

(Matthew 10:28- Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.)
2) Evil is real
America has the benefit and the curse of being shielded from the harsh realities of life. We truly are a blessed nation. Even the average poor American is better off than most of the world. In my opinion, this has produced an arrogance that denies the existence of evil.
We have been shielded from war, famine, genocide, terrorism etc. I do not claim to even have an elementary grasp of the harsh realities of life, because I have not faced them. But I also do not deny the existence of evil. I once heard a pastor say “The best thing satan can do is convince you that he doesnt exist”. I believe that to be true.
On 9/11, the effects of evil were on display for the entire world to see and Americans were awakened to one of the harsh realities of life- Evil is real.
3) Hate is destructive
Hate is defined as “Intense or passionate dislike”.
This lesson is closely tied to the previous one regarding evil. I will not go into great detail, but hate is destructive.  The hatred shown towards the United States on 9/11 resulted in the loss of nearly 3,000 lives. Check out this article detailing the destruction associated with 9/11. http://nymag.com/news/articles/wtc/1year/numbers.htm
4) Life is valuable
Arguably the most important lesson we learned on 9/11: Life is valuable.  It breaks my heart that this lesson is most often learned through the loss of life.
Allow me to share a personal note on this topic. Due to the recent passing of my mom, this particular lesson is very real to me. A truth that I discovered in this time goes something like this: We notice the absence of something, more than we appreciate the presence of that same thing. (In my case, my mother). I notice her absence on a daily basis, but I did not appreciate her presence on a daily basis.
Life was stolen on 9/11.
We know life is valuable because we are “made in God’s image” – Gen 1:27.
I can not write this section without asking this question- If the death of 3,000 Americans on 9/11 is a horrendous tragedy, what about the over 3,000 unborn Americans that are killed each day via abortion?
Do not be deceived; life is valuable at all stages.
5) Heroes still exist
9/11 showed us that heroes still exist.
Men like Todd Beamer, who, when confronted by terrorism on Flight 93 decided to act boldly with others to thwart more damage.
Or men like Rick Rescorla, whose vigilance in preparing prior to 9/11 led to the successful evacuation of over 2,000 people. He ultimately lost his life directing people out of the building because he was the last one out.
Or the countless first responders who ran into burning buildings when everyone else was running out. They had to know after the first tower collapsed that they were not going to survive.
In a day full of tremendous death, destruction and darkness, there was still silver lining.
Which brings me to my next point…
6) God is in control
He’s still God, He’s still God, HE IS STILL GOD!! HE STILL REIGNS AND HE IS STILL IN CONTROL!!
As I said earlier, control is an illusion. The truth is that God is in control. Nothing happens outside of His sight. Moving on from 9/11, we can find comfort in knowing that ultimately God is in control of the situation.
The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.  
 The seas have lifted up, LORD,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the LORD on high is mighty.
 Your statutes, LORD, stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days.
Psalm 93
Advertisements

Answering the Question- What’s Next? (Part 2)

What’s Next?
Last week we took a look at this question, and this week I hope to provide a Biblical answer to this question and also offer some insight into how it applies on a day to day basis.

There are three main themes that I want to focus on from the Bible.

1) Do Not Worry About the Future

James 4:13-15

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

2) God’s Plan Prevails

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

3) We Do Not Own Our Lives

Jeremiah 10:23

LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

As you can see, the Bible speaks clearly on this issue. And the answer provided by the Bible is “I have placed my faith in the Lord, and I will follow Him.”

Now, lets revisit the examples that I provided before-

1) High school student approaching graduation-

Mr. So-and-So comes around and asks you What’s Next, What your plans are for the future? Are you going to college? If so, where? Etc.

Answer
“There are options that I am evaluating, but most of all I am trusting God to guide me in this important decision”

DISCLAIMER- I am not providing some “one size fits all” answer to this question. Everyone is in a different situation. Be honest and humble when answering this question. The main point is that you are seeking God in each and every decision you face, and in that process, you will be right where He wants you to be. Mr. So-and-So may not accept your answer, but you are not on this Earth to please Mr. So-and-So.

2) College student facing graduation, and the real world-

What’s Next? Do you have a job lined up? What about Grad School? Etc

“God guided me to college, and I trust that He will guide me in this next phase of my life. I am uncertain right now, but I know that He will provide for me if I trust in Him.”

NOTE- The one thing I hope you notice in this portion is the first sentence. God has proven His faithfulness to this student and the student is confident that God will provide for their future IF they continue to trust in Him. I’ve learned that life only gets frustrating when we try and control it.

3) Young adult with a growing family.

What’s Next? How many kids are you going to have? Public or private school? Etc. 

“God has guided me up to this point, and He will continue to do so. I will raise my children based on the Lord’s principles and trust Him to guide them as He has guided me.”

NOTE- The key here is that the parent is focused on raising their child in a Godly household. All of the different worldly details don’t really matter that much. ( # of kids, where to live, how to live, who to be friends with, job to have, where children will go to school)

4) Yourself, approaching death

The question of What’s Next is never asked in this situation. Because the Christian, who has placed their Faith in Christ, knows the answer to this question and is anticipating their entrance into His Presence.

NOTE- This is awesome!!!

Conclusion-

The question Whats Next is ultimately a question of Faith. Where do you place your faith? Do you place your faith in the world, in yourself, or in the Lord?

Answering the Question- What’s Next? (Part 1)

Answering the Question- What’s Next?
   
What’s next?

This question must be answered by everyone at some point in their life. You may be in high school and graduation is a year away and you still dont know what you want to do or where you want to go to college (if you even want to go to college). Every time you see an adult they will ask you-
So where are you going to college? What do you want to do when you get there?
Blah blah blah. All this time your stress level is rising because you dont have “the perfect answer”

You know what the perfect answer is in our society? It goes something like this-

“Well Mr. So-and-So, I am going to the (Insert prestigious University) where I will major in (Insert impressive sounding Major)and go on to (Insert impressive sounding Grad Program) and come out and join the work force as a successful (Insert Title Here). I will meet my wife during this time and have 2.5 children and live the happiest life anyone has ever lived.”

Or maybe youre in college and you have settled into your major and graduation is staring you in the face (as is the case with me). You naively believe that you have escaped the What’s Next question. But you quickly realize that as graduation approaches, that same
 Mr. So-and-So wants to know what your plans are.
They will ask questions like this-

Oh so you are majoring in (Insert slightly less impressive Major), so what can you do with that degree? What are your plans? Got any jobs lined up? Do you enjoy it? Considering Grad School?  Blah blah blah.

Once again, your stress level is rising because you know in your heart and mind that you are not certain what your plans are. You dont have “the perfect answer”. So, you give them the socially acceptable answer which goes something like this.

“Well Mr. So-and-So, I am not quite sure right now. I have some ideas that I am exploring. I have considered grad school at (insert impressive sounding University) or maybe trying to find a job in my field. I am just taking my time now to evaluate my options.” (Which is a euphemism for “I really have no clue what I am going to do”)

You breathe a huge sigh of relief when they accept your answer and move on.

Time goes on and you find a job (hopefully), grow up and get married. Not too long after that, a child is on the way and you find yourself wondering, What’s Next? You are responsible for a spouse and a baby, and you feel totally unprepared for the job. (Note- every parent i have ever talked to has said they never felt ready to be a parent, it really is on the job training)

You are a new parent and full of joy, when all of the sudden Mr. So-and-So comes around. You think to yourself “Great. Not Mr. So-and-So again, this guy always asks me the same thing”
Sure enough, Mr. So-and-So comes after you like a killer whale chasing a baby seal.

Congratulations on the baby!
What are your plans? How many kids are you gonna have? Are you going to put them in public or private school? Hows work going? Are yall going to move?

Once again, you are stressed. At this point, your reply is so well refined that Mr. So-and-So leaves completely satisfied with your answer.
“Thanks Mr. So-and-So! We are excited about the baby. Work is going well, any better and I wouldnt know what to do with myself (insert fake hearty laughter)!!!
Wife is great, life is great. Thanks!”

Years go by quickly and your children have grown up and moved away. You grow old with your spouse and one of you will outlive the other one. You find yourself growing old and weary, and you know that death is approaching.

Now, the question What’s Next is not being asked by Mr. So-and-So, it is being asked by you. “Where do I go when I die? What happens? Is there life after this? What’s Next?”

(Stay tuned for Part 2)

 – B