It was a Tuesday, happened to be my day off. Five years ago this morning, when everything changed for me, our country, and the whole world.
Yet today, as I reflect on the memory of the horror of that moment, very little is really any different than it was when I woke up that morning.
Because it was my day off I had slept late that morning. I remember that I was reading, as was my morning habit, when the phone rang. It was one of my wife’s girlfriends, which again was fairly normal. What was not normal was when Gorgeous put her hand over the receiver and said, “Chris turn on CNN. A plane just hit the World Trade Center.”
Being a former Naval Flight Officer I remember thinking as I hunted for the remote, “Man. Some bug smasher pilot must have really screwed up!”
Even after I tuned in to the all news channel I tried to mentally calculate how a private plane could account for the damage and the smoke that I was seeing. I didn’t want to consider that it could be anything more than a horrible accident.
While I was watching I thought about my four years in New York City. How I enjoyed leaving campus in the Bronx early on weekend mornings to head into “The City”, which is how we referred to Manhattan. I would often make my way down to the financial district because I liked the solitude of walking amongst such huge buildings with so very few people around. The streets were often still wet from the night action of the street sweepers, or maybe a passing rain shower.
Somehow that part of the city at that time of the week would smell surprisingly clean to me. And that dichotomy of smell and place was one of the things I like most about making the trip that early when most of my classmates were still sleeping.
I liked to wander around the World Trade Center complex. The big buildings fascinated me. And the twin towers were the biggest. Sometimes I would get right up beside them and lean back. Looking up from that perspective the huge towering building seemed to curve back over my head. I remember feeling the building sway in the wind up as I looked down at the helicopters scurrying around the city from the observation deck 107 stories up.
Then I watched the second plane hit the second tower.
It was no bug smasher. At that moment I knew I was watching something to horrible to understand fully. And the images kept pouring in.
There were the shots of that second plane hitting the tower which were played over and over like the instant replay of some sporting event. There were the long shots of the smoke billowing out from the upper floors of those two towers like the were some big candles burning far away.
But eventually the cameras got in closer and we saw people looking down at us through the tears in the building as they desperately tried to find some clear air to breath and escape the heat and flames. And then the unimaginable started happening. We saw film of people falling 1,000 feet or more from the burning areas of the buildings. Not just one or two but dozens.
I watched in disbelief as the first tower collapsed in on itself in a cloud of concrete and smoke. How could this happen?!
By the time I watched the second tower meet the same fate as the first my disbelief was turning to anger. I was angry at the people who did this. But mostly I was angry because of what I knew.
Deep down I knew that no matter how much changed as a result of that day, there was one lesson that we would likely fail to learn. And now, five years later, it seems I was right.
The events of September 11, 2001 really are too horrible to fully comprehend. And doesn’t matter whether you believe the conspiracy theories that are gaining ground these days that claim the government somehow caused all the destruction that day as a pretense for going to war. Or if you believe that it was a deliberate attack by some extremist who are on the fringes of a religion subscribed to by over a billion people on this earth whose holy book teaches that each of us should be killed if we don’t convert to their religion.
The bottom line is the events of that day are also a warning to us. The reality is this: Our safety and security, our prosperity, our very success as a nation on the stage of history is not solely dependent on our Government.
The Bible teaches that God is at work in the events of man. It is God who raises nations up. And it is God who brushes them aside, sometimes in a moment.
If the USA is currently the world’s only superpower it is because God has made it so. And God can change that status in less than a day if he chooses. It is God that can cause the most powerful army in the world to be defeated by peasant fighters if he chooses. God can see that every single attempted terrorist act is discovered and stopped before it happens if he chooses. And God can allow a wave of terror to envelope a nation if he chooses.
Our failure is that we neglect to acknowledge this reality. 9/11 taught us a lot. But this is one lesson we have chosen not to learn. In stead of turning to God and asking for his divine protection we turn to our government to keep us safe. We expect our technology, our powerful military, and our security procedures to be able to protect us from all harm.
And we forget the one person who has the certain ability to keep us completely safe and secure.
Many people in our nation today will take off their shoes going through a security checkpoint more frequently than they will acknowledge God and seek his protection. They grumble about the bureaucratic approach to security that involves frisking grandmothers, yet trust that the bureaucracy will keep them safe.
Yet there is one who can make our security precautions completely effective. There is one who can divinely compensate for any shortcomings in our systems and procedures.
We turn our backs on that one at our own peril.
As you scroll down through the photos that remind us of the horrible suffering of so many that fateful day 5 years ago, think about the words written by a leader who understood how dependent his country was on God for their protection.
In times of trouble, may the LORD respond to your cry.
May the God of Israel keep you safe from all harm.May he send you help from his sanctuary
and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
May he remember all your gifts
and look favorably on your burnt offerings.
May he grant your heart’s desire
and fulfill all your plans.
May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory,
flying banners to honor our God.
May the LORD answer all your prayers.
Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed king.
He will answer him from his holy heaven
and rescue him by his great power.
Some nations boast of their armies and weapons,
but we boast in the LORD our God.
Those nations will fall down and collapse,
but we will rise up and stand firm.
Give victory to our king, O LORD!
Respond to our cry for help.
If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email or RSS Feed.