Twenty years ago on September 10, I went to bed just like any other Monday evening. Little did I and the rest of the country know that September 11, 2001 would create images and memories that would last a life time.
Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks and attempted attacks on people in the airplanes and in buildings in New York and Washington DC. For those of you that lived through it, you probably remember where you were and what you were doing when the events happened.
I was on my way from Cary, NC to a pastor study club in Winston Salem, NC. My pastor friend and I were riding together and so didn’t have the radio on and had no idea what was taking place up the East Coast from us. As we arrived at the church hosting the gathering, the host pastor asked if we knew what was going on. With a TV on, we watched as smoke billowed from the World Trade Center towers with news crews trying to make sense of what was happening. At first they thought it was a small plane flew into the towers. Then images of a full commercial airliner striking the building emerged. After reports of a plane down in Pennsylvania and one slamming into the Pentagon, they knew a deliberate plot had been executed to hurt America and Americans.
The images of smoke gave way to gut-wrenching images of people jumping out of the building. Then we watched in horror as the first building collapsed and then the second.
After about an hour of watching the events unfold, we all realized it was important to head back home to be with people in our congregations. One pastor served the marines at Camp Lejeune and one pastor the army at Fort Bragg. They got word the military was put on notice. President Bush heard of the attacks while reading to grade-schoolers and had put the military on notice. Fighter jets were scrambled to take out any other hijacked planes and military told to be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.
The day was chaotic, full of confusion, and cause for concern.
Was the attack over or was it just beginning? How many lives were lost? Who did this? What would happen next?
That evening we put together a prayer service to gather our church family and friends together. I honestly don’t remember what Scripture I shared, but I think one of them was Psalm 46 (if it wasn’t, it should have been!)
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Twenty years later we still need the calm, comforting promises of our Lord and Savior. Nations still are in uproar. Kingdoms are falling. Fear is in people’s hearts
But here’s what we know, if we are willing to seek it and see it: God is still God over all.
We have many things still today that cause us concern, fill our lives with chaos, and leave us confused as to what to do or what the future holds.
Like 9/11 was in 2001, I pray 9/11 in 2021 is another day we as individuals, families and as a country turn our hearts and lives to the Lord Almighty who is with us and is our refuge and strength and an ever present help in trouble.
Prayer: Lord, turn our hearts toward you not just in times of chaos, confusion and concern, but always. Only in you do we find our refuge, strength and help in trouble. AMEN.