by Rebecca Cheng
I stood in the Costco parking lot loading my purchases and observed an unusual number of people chatting. As I unloaded my car at home I received a text message from my daughter compelling me to “turn on the television.” At that point I became engrossed in a day that has changed America—September 11, 2001.
Having many friends and a few relatives in New York City, I was concerned about several people. Because the public transportation system was affected, a friend walked 11 hours to get home. Thankfully he, his family, and my relatives were safe and alive at the end of the day. Sadly, some members of my friend’s church never made it back to their homes that fateful day.
The Last Time
A few years later, my son moved to New York City. Although 9/11 was still fresh in my mind, I knew God had orchestrated the circumstances for him to attend college in the heart of the city, and that being in God’s will is the only safe place to be.
As we took him to college, our friends in the area promised to watch out for him. Still, my heart was torn. One of these friends described how 9/11 changed her life. “Whenever I leave my boys, I tell them, ‘This may be the last time you see me. God only knows.’” This message has stuck in my heart as I cherish each moment. A car accident, a tragedy, a sudden heart attack—any of these can separate us from loved ones. As we left my son in his new Manhattan apartment, he assured me, “Mom, don’t worry. This is not the last time you’ll see me!”
I learned about friends who were spared on 9/11. One was scheduled to attend a computer training class in the World Trade Center. But she overslept and due to heavy traffic, never made it to the building. She marvels at how God spared her life and in profound gratitude to him, she lives her life to the fullest to glorify him. She boldly believes God will reach a million people for Christ through her family.
Moments of Tragedy
God’s sovereignty and grace on that fateful day 10 years ago still help me remember how to live and celebrate the moment. No one anticipated such a massive tragedy. The son of a dear family friend was killed in the Pentagon as he reported to work. His mother lamented how her oldest son returned from the Vietnam War unharmed, but a son who went to work locally one morning never returned home.
God protected some, and not others, for a higher purpose we may never know. Isaiah 55:8, 9 reminds us, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”
Cherish Each Moment
Todd Beamer’s wife, Lisa, captured the heart of her husband in the book Let’s Roll (Tyndale House, 2002), recounting how Todd and several men gave their lives to save others from another tragedy—a plane targeted for the White House and Capitol. Each of us has a legacy. None of us knows how long it will be before others will be commenting on our life’s impact. We must cherish each moment and make it count.
As we listened to those who survived, we recall harsh words left in some minds. If we cherish the moment, we will not leave a loved one with mean or hateful words. We will never know as we leave for work, school, or an errand, if we might see that person again. Celebrate and enjoy the loved ones God gives you.
One man, after observing the massive devastation and subsequent acts of kindness, felt called to love those of other beliefs. He says we do not represent God accurately as a God of love when we exhibit hate to those who are different in their beliefs. How can we say “Jesus is the only way” without providing evidence of God’s love by our attitude and actions? His commitment has led to a series of inter-faith dialogues with Jews and Muslims that are intentional and love based. This is another way to cherish the moment and make it count—by sharing the love of God in a way that shows love and not hatred or disdain for those who follow other religions.
Plan for the Moment
A tragedy like 9/11 reminds us to plan for the moment when we will be taken home by God. We would be wise to establish a power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, and to get our estates in order. We should not make it difficult for our survivors to know who will receive our earthly possessions and how we wish to be cared for medically if we can no longer make that decision.
The tragedy of 9/11 brought people streaming into church buildings for several weeks afterward. Within a couple of months, however, the enthusiasm waned. This open window of opportunity for helping people on their spiritual journeys faded almost as quickly as it began. For a short time, however, preachers and spiritual leaders sought to give them the one thing we can offer everyone—hope that comes only through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The devastation of 9/11 is superseded by the hope we have. Growth often comes through pain. As we cling to God in times of turmoil and despair, he gives us hope and teaches us how to live. As we reflect on the lessons God has taught us, we can bring glory to him by remembering and living out these lessons daily. We do this by cherishing and celebrating the moments, living each day for God and others, and preparing to go to our real home. Let’s establish our legacy according to Todd Beamer’s famous words, “Let’s roll!”
Rebecca Cheng is a pen name.
by Beth Guckenberger
When we look at a tragedy like 9/11 or even more simple moments that still cause pain, we may wonder, “What’s the point?”
God told Jeremiah, “If you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become my spokesman . . . and I will redeem you” (Jeremiah 15:19, 21, NASB).
It’s hard to find the precious in the pain and tragedy of life. But people do.
This book is filled with real stories of people who have faced sorrow yet have pursued hope. And they cling to God’s promise that he is on our side.
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