How do you remember September 11th?
Blog by Pete Matisoo
God is faithful, and He is Good. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. How do you view God? How do you view yourself and your purpose?
In my last blog, I talked about memories – where I was, who I was with, what I was doing, and how the events of September 11, 2001 impacted my life in a profound way. Memories can fade, however, as they did for the Israelites after God miraculously delivered them from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. They forgot who their God was, who they were, and the purpose they had been given. During their time in the wilderness, they allowed their present circumstances to reshape their view of God and, as a result, their own self-image. That’s why God spoke to Joshua and had him tell the Israelites to erect twelve stones after the second parting of the waters, this time crossing the Jordan river at flood stage. These stones were to serve as a visible memorial to God’s greatness. If the Israelites ever allowed the circumstances around to cause them to doubt who God was and who He had made them to be, they would look at those stones and remember.
September 11, 2001 is like those twelve stones to me. The heinous acts committed that day by the terrorists remind me that there is nothing good – absolutely nothing – about Satan. Jesus reminds us in His word that the enemy has come for one purpose, that is to steal, kill and destroy. The vivid images of death and destruction from that day still play in my mind when I think about 9-11. Jesus goes on to say that He has come to destroy the works of the devil, that we may have life, and life to the full. God is good – always – and He had nothing to do with those horrible acts.
The countless acts of bravery and sacrifice that followed serve to remind me even more of God’s goodness, and they offer glimpses of what it looks like to be created in His image. We were created to love our neighbor as ourselves. On that day, our first responders magnificently demonstrated what that looks like as they rushed into the crumbling Twin Towers to find someone – anyone – who may still be alive and bring them to safety. They did not stop to ask, “who is my neighbor?” They ran into the fire, not away from it, for their love of their fellow man.
We were created to be in an intimate relationship with the God of all Creation. In the Sundays that followed 9-11, churches were bursting at the seams as people turned to God for answers and certainty in what seemed like very uncertain times. Many people gave their lives to Christ, as Christians – and nearly all of America – bonded together. People saw very tangible demonstrations of what Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35, NKJV)
But the memories faded. Our military took to the offensive to fight the enemy on their soil and not ours, our homeland defenses were fortified, and normal life soon resumed. And church attendance abated, settling back to something close to pre-9-11 norms. Do we need to be shaken by some demonstrative example of mass destruction on our soil to know that the enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy? I thought a lot about that in writing this blog. The evidence of Satan’s work is all around. Walking by the Truckee River in Reno, NV recently I saw many homeless people, clearly devoid of purpose. That’s not the “life to the full” that God intended. A good friend of mine was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer and underwent surgery. That’s the enemy’s doing. And there are so many more examples.
But our God is so much greater, and Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is Good, He has all authority, and He came to give us the opportunity for eternal life. That life is not some far off, distant and nebulous thing. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You sent.” (John 17:3, NKJV)
Father, I pray for each and every American as we come upon the 19th anniversary of 9-11. Help us all to understand that we have an enemy who is the source of all decay and destruction. Even more, help us to understand Your incredible goodness. As followers of Jesus, may our sacrificial love for one another point people to you, that they may receive Your Son as Lord and Savior. And may they know Him so intimately that they discover and embrace who they really are, and their purpose. Amen.