Yesterday marked the fifteenth anniversary of September 11th. Like everyone else of a certain age, I can remember were I was that day. I heard the news coming out of counseling appointment. Instantly we planned a community prayer service for that evening. I remember sneaking peeks at the TV that day, trying to understand what was happening. I was also calling pastors to invite them to participate in the service, and planning my own remarks. I checked on my children and wife to make sure everyone was safe (funny how attacks in New York and Washington make you feel threatened in Sumter).
We did the community prayer service and it blessed many. I’ll never forget servicemen and women coming up to me to tell me they were shipping out that night and they didn’t know when they would see me again. I was asked to pray with families that faced an uncertain future.
I went to bed that night, exhausted.
The next day dawned with an hangover of reality. I remember wondering if the kids should go to school. I wasn’t sure whether I would have anyone keep their appointments. I discarded my sermon for Sunday and started to write a new one.
What I remember most about September 12th is the stark reality the world had changed. As Pearl Harbor defined one generation, and the death of John Kennedy defined another, so my generation would be defined by September 11th. It would be my friends and neighbors going to war.
What I didn’t know that day was that the war would continue for 15 years. The rest of our nation may have forgotten we have troops on the ground, but we have not. Those troops on the ground, in the air, and on the sea are our people. We’ve seen the toll on the families. We’ve seen the frustration of a military asked to do more with less. We’ve ministered to Jesus followers who struggled with orders they had to give and orders they had to carry out.
September 11th was the day the world stopped turning (to borrow a phrase from Alan Jackson). September 12th was the day the world started to turn again, with a new wobble.
It seems every decade or two, there is that pivotal moment when the world stops and then starts again. We are probably due for another wobble, another start and stop moment. When it happens – and it will – God will still be in control. He will still hold the future. He will still offer hope and comfort to all who seek Him.
To me, September 12th will always be a day of faith. It represents the day I remembered to trust my Father in heaven, no matter what happens in the world.