I certainly remember September 11, 2001. Like millions of other people, I have a distinct memory of where I was and what I was doing as the towers fell.
But I also remember well September 12, 2001, the day after the fateful event.
The Day After
Tributes and documentaries have inundated the airwaves and the Internet regarding the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Rightfully so. The nefarious act and the loss of lives will ever scar the history of our nation. We must never forget.
And we must never forget the heroic acts that saved lives and rescued people. The tragedy gave us some of the greatest heroes of our nation’s history.
But I also remember the day after.
It would be an overstatement to say that the shock of the event had worn off just twenty-four hours later. To the contrary, most American citizens, and even others around the world, were still in a state of numbed disbelief.
But it was on the day after, September 12, that I begin to hear the questions. How could this happen? Why did this happen? Why did God let such evil people take the lives of so many innocent victims? What does this event mean for us as a nation?
The Tough Questions
So many of the questions were difficult to answer. There was no copy and paste response that could console a grieving and frightened nation. Churches would swell with attendees the next Sunday as both churched and unchurched America sought hope and tried to make some sense of this dreadful catastrophe.
I found myself captivated and challenged by the questions and the commentary the day after September 11. And I pondered some of those same issues myself.
What Really Matters
As I began to think and pray about 9/11 just one day later, I began to wonder about the eternity of those who had perished. I wondered how many had heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I wondered how many had received the gift of salvation through Him.
How many Christian co-workers, I wondered, had taken the time to share Christ with those who would lose their lives on that fateful day? How many believers had been lovingly and sufficiently bold to tell the good news?
I truly wondered about these matters on September 12.
And I wondered how many of those who perished told their spouses or their children that they loved them. How many of the victims left their survivors with memories of their love and concern for them?
You see, those were the things that really mattered to me on September 12. Those were the questions at the forefront of my mind.
Perhaps more than anything, September 12 reminded me why September 11 was so important to me. That horrendous day became a reminder to me to give my life to those things that really matter. A national tragedy became a personal marker.
And so on September 12, I prayed that God would give me wisdom and opportunities to share the gospel with greater boldness. I prayed that I would become a more compassionate Christian, and see others through the eyes of Christ. And I prayed that God would give me the heart to become a better husband and a better father.
Those were the things that mattered most.
On September 12, 2001, I was reminded of what mattered most.
And after I prayed, I went home and told my wife how much I loved her. I called each of my boys to let them know how much I loved them, and how proud I was of them.
And I pledged not to let an opportunity go by where I did not share the love of Christ with others. I pledged not to let a moment pass where I did not tell my family how much I loved each of them.
I can’t make good sense out of September 11.
But I can let September 11 make good sense of my own life.
That was the gift of September 12.
May we never forget.