Thursday, September 8, 2011

What have we learned?

September is a time to refuel and restart our learning engines! Whether or not we’re in school, the sky’s the limit on how far we can expand our knowledge. Speaking of expanding, 10 years ago this weekend the skies over Manhattan expanded with smoke as the twin towers collapsed in the wake of terrorist attacks that ultimately killed nearly 3,000 people. These were innocent victims from 115 nations, with men outnumbering women 3 to 1, most of them between 35 and 39. Ages when it’s easy to assume there’s plenty of time left for learning.

The question is, what have we learned from 9/11? Volumes have been and will be written with sage reflections. We will be awed by the Ground Zero Memorial as an enduring tribute to the fallen and to the cause of peace. We can debate NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement of a mosque near Ground Zero and his forbidding of prayer and clergy at the 10th anniversary ceremony at the site of the 9/11 attacks.

While the mayor has not spoken out against the display of the World Trade Center Cross made from steel beams found in that exact formation in the rubble, he’s also considering some Muslim prayers and maybe even an atheistic chant. There’s heated dialogue on border security and implementation of shariah law in our land. All of this makes for lively discussion, but back to our question. What have we learned?

I’ve learned that memory is a powerful thing. We remember where we were on 9/11. For many that moment, along with stories of heroism, redefined their lives.

Who could forget Todd Beamer saying the Lord’s Prayer to the operator, asking her to say it with his pregnant wife? Before he said, “Let’s Roll.” The stories in the media right now, 10 years later, continue to inspire us. What are they teaching? For a while, post 9/11, people were exploring what matters most as part of re-thinking their lives. This major change in American culture has had a pretty good shelf life, according to social scientists, in that the importance of relationships continues. I wonder if that accounts for the extreme prominence of social networking as every day millions of us connect through online social networks and sites? Perhaps.

So, I’ve learned memory is a powerful thing. On a deeper level I’ve learned that God’s memory is perfect. He doesn’t just create us in our mother’s womb and then say “Catch ‘ya on the flip side!” He remembers us with a love that makes it worth getting up in the morning, a love that never quits! His love wants to “ready” us for whatever we’re going to face. So I’ve learned to seek the Lord to be ready if and when my tower falls. Not literally, but it’s Biblical readiness and the tower can be a job or health or wealth or a relationship that’s crumbling.

Years ago I faced a potentially dangerous health condition and came across 2 Tim 1:7. I grabbed onto those words because I was scared. Here’s what readied me to overcome my fear. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind!” That was 30 years ago. My life was spared by God’s grace through surgery. My mind was changed from fear to the power of speaking a Bible verse to a scary situation. Now I can face scary circumstances that do NOT change, because I learned God keeps my mind clear through my faith in Christ. This readies me to persevere and learn lessons along the way.

I’m not saying if I were caught in a terrorist act I would know exactly what to do. But I know the One Who does.

There’s something about memorizing God’s Word that brings comfort and courage to face whatever situation into which He accompanies us! What verses have you tucked into your heart to pull out in the moment of adversity? If you don’t have any, just open your Bible and choose some. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in the process. Jot them down on a post it note or on your screen saver. Memorize them.

What have we learned from 9/11? Whatever your answer, since we all play a role in the war on terror, let’s begin with love. God’s love, that is. We recognize evil, that God calls sin, and follow His advice to be on guard and live as peaceably as we can with all men. Towers will crumble, but we don’t have to. Even in the face of death itself, I’m going to remember that God remembers me. That's a lesson learned worth sharing!

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