Ten years ago this past Sunday my wife and I were sitting in a doctors’ office waiting to hear if our world was really being turned upside down. She came back in the room and said, “Congratulations! You’re going to be parents!”
We love our daughter very much but at the time we were not trying or even thinking about having kids. We were 22 and 23 years old. We were just barely able to take care of ourselves and hadn’t been married very long at all. So when we found out we were pregnant, it wasn’t the happy moment we thought it would be.
There was crying, but the tears indicated fear instead of joy. My wife cried so hard I asked the doctor to give us some privacy. We held each other and wondered how we would move on from this point. We decided to take a breather, go get some lunch, and gain some perspective on what just happened.
As we drove to grab a bite to eat, everything started to look as if it were on waves. It was at that point that something gripped my chest and started squeezing the air out of my lungs. My heart decided to join in the fun and began to pound as if it were trying to escape! I pulled over and almost fell out of the car. I put head between my knees and tried not to pass out.
Once we finally made it to lunch, we were able to calm down and realize what a blessing this would be.
That was September 4, 2001.
One week later I was standing in a room of 4th and 5th grade students teaching a Bible class at Tri-County Christian School in Macon, MO. My cell phone started buzzing. I just let it go because I was teaching. I checked the message during the morning recess and heard some garbled voice talking about planes and buildings. I couldn’t quite make it out.
It was September 11, 2001
After class I went into my office and heard on the radio horrified voices describe what was indescribable. Two commercial flights had crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn’t totally understand what was taking place until I left work and turned on my television at home. The images I saw immediately sickened my stomach.
I raced to the phone to call my wife. When I was able to finally talk to her, relief flooded me. I didn’t know if this was an isolated incident or if we were under attack as country or something much worse. I just needed to hear her voice.
My cell then started ringing and ringing, it was my mom calling to make sure we were safe. She cried the moment I said “Hello”. I could hear the terror in her voice as we talked. I let her know we were all ok and that I had talked to my wife.
I can remember the panic in the streets. People flooded the grocery stores and gas stations. I got in line to get gas because everyone else did. I was worried that it might be awhile before we could get gas again. I ran into a store and grabbed a bunch of water and non-perishable food items. I didn’t know what was going on.
I still remember the first conversation my wife and I had after she got home. It started like this,
“What kind of world are we bringing our child into?”
We had no way of answering this question. How do you begin to process something this horrendous when it comes to your kids? We were totally lost.
The joy that we had begun to experience had now been shattered and morphed into complete horror. The poor people that died on the planes, in the Towers, in the Pentagon and on that barren field crushed our hearts. The anger that we felt at the men who planned and executed something so evil burned and morphed into hatred. Our words were dripping with revenge and retaliation. Our thoughts turned black and cold to those responsible for these atrocious acts.
I think back to this time in our country's history and I am very conflicted. I do feel shame now for that initial response. The path my heart took did not reflect the love of Christ, the sacrifice of the cross or the Spirit that dwelled within me. My heart took a very human path and that response tried to crush my Spirit. Over the years, my response has changed.
As I’ve grown closer to Christ and seen the depravity that exists in my own heart I’ve come to realize that His love reaches out for the ones I hate, the ones I won’t see or think about. If the love of Christ is not for them, it’s not for anyone. If the sacrifice of the cross doesn’t extend to those blind men who piloted those planes, then it cannot pardon my sin. If the Spirit that dwells in me is not allowed to guide my thoughts and actions then essentially I call Christ a liar. My heart’s desire was not the love Christ calls me to. My heart’s desire was to a morbid sense of satisfaction found in revenge.
Mathew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus stands up and tells this large gathering that if you’re down and out, if you’re at the end of your rope, if you have no one that loves you, if you are rejected and loathed, if you are the lowest of the low then My kingdom is for you!
Think about that. If His kingdom isn’t for them, it can’t be for you! His kingdom is for the men who killed 3000+ on that morning. His kingdom is for the men and women that continue to murder and cause chaos around the world. His kingdom is for them because if it’s not, then it’s not for anyone.
So as all the TV programs and news article focus around the events of that great and terrible morning, we have found answers for those questions that we asked ten years ago. And because of them we will teach our daughter a different way. We will show her the heart of Jesus for these men. We will pray for His love to conquer their fear, we will ask for His light to expose their darkness, and we will pray that we may be bearers of His good news to those that are without.