Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 11 - Remembering the brave and the comforts of God's people

Prayer was an instinctive response on 9-11-01 after two passenger jet airplanes flew into the Twin Towers in New York City. A church called Trinity right next door was spared and immediately opened its front doors for entrance to food, water, and coffee for the courageous responders at Ground Zero. This was the church to which the first U.S. President, George Washington, walked after his inauguration at Federal Hall, New York City.

Soon, prayers and action grew on 9/11/2001, as more news arrived: an airborne attack on the Pentagon building and a fourth plane crashed into farmland in Pennsylvania. Thinking about the tragedies felt around the world and the future of freedom in the world, I remember that this country was founded by men and women of spiritual resolve. As for the past and the future, the hymn "O God Our Help in Ages Past" has come to mind:

O God our help in ages past
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast
and Our Eternal Home...

This year I think of the helpless victims and of those who gave their lives to try to save others. Whether walking, running, or driving toward the disaster, firefighters, police, emergency medical responders, and others instinctively or by training did not count the cost of their lives. They went to try to help save others. I suspect many of them had already, upon assuming their jobs, counted the costs as best they could and committed themselves to serve their city and its people, wherever they originated.

This Sunday night, I watched some minutes of footage of that day in Manhattan, New York City, when the Twin Towers were attacked as the first sign of terror. As the towers fell, film shows the always-alarming cloud of debris that threatened to smother people fleeing on the ground, through the streets. 

There is no denying terrorism anymore. Tonight, watching and remembering, there is also no denying courage. We can trust that there are untold stories of those who did not survive the destruction of that day. Many very likely died because they drew on courage not to leave others trapped and alone. I know that such a supposition has a basis, due to stories of those in New York and at the Pentagon who survived due to the help of others who did not panic, did not run, did not give in to their own pain, and assisted others.

In New York, at the Pentagon, and in the field of Pennsylvania where the fourth airborne terror-driven plane crashed, the world watched terrifying and deadly scenes. The world later heard cockpit and plane tapes of passengers of great courage. From reports based on cockpit talk we now know that the terrorists were terrified at the end. They knew they had completely lost control of their mission in every respect.

Like those who have perished at home and in other lands, 
we will one day face death, 
whether from natural cause, illness, or tragedy. 
We have no idea how or when 
our deaths will come.

Many wait now to decide what they believe about their lives, their courage, and Eternal Life.  Many believe that their inevitable death will bring a void, a nothingness. Others have heard that Jesus Christ is worshiped as the Son of the living God and shed His blood on a cross at Calvary to cover the sins of every person who would accept that substitution payment for wrongs done to self and others.  Many postpone a major decision about faith, hoping that first they can answer hard questions about the Bible and good/evil. I understand the hesitation, because I once lived that way, wasting years lived without peace with God. Yet, God has restored those years and more: "I will restore the years the locusts have eaten," He has promised. Since 1980 I been able to say with certainty and as an adult, "I believe in Jesus Christ and have placed my life, which I value, fully into His keeping."

I love to offer what God has taught me about how to live, through biblical words and other explorations of Christian faith since 1980. I have learned that understanding begins, to whatever extent, after faith is settled regarding Jesus Christ. Delay does not help. I do not know why it works this way. Only when we no longer desire understanding more than we desire God do we see a door of faith opening to vast territories of understanding.

My soul is in God's hands by faith, which is the evidence of the unseen things. Even that statement of being in God's hands is an image of something larger than words. It seems to me, although I cannot and have no need to prove it, that God has had my life in His hands since I was 12. My years of doubt, due to failure to trust Him in every situation of life, have been forgiven. That forgiveness is a vital part of what the Cross and the Resurrection mean to me.

One thing I have learned as a Christian 
is that true understanding is unavailable
outside of faith. First, I began to believe and
to express needs and questions to God; 
then came understanding that I was unable to gain
before I trusted in Christ, from the heart.  

I try to encourage others not to be stubborn as I was. I try to encourage those who seek without finding to seek God's face first before being distracted by religious or theological questions. Knowing God by faith in Him opens the door to asking all the questions we desire to ask.

Even now, even if you do not realize it, you are beloved by the loving God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. I dared to believe that truth after I read C.H. Spurgeon's written words saying that this is so. I began to realize, slowly through ensuing days and months, that God helps me with any question I desire to ask Him. Without Him, answers seem to hide. And, answers I still do not understand I can, by faith, lay aside for whatever time needed.    

Without understanding how it works, by God's grace I do know that this living hope of Christian faith is indestructible. Once a person sincerely decides to trust God through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection...there is a life within an amazing, living hope. There is also, among innumerable other graces, an amazing inner peace that comes in as one faces unavoidable troubles of living in the world. 

Death will find you and it will find me, eventually, in the realm of time. I am in God's hands for life beyond death, and I hope the same assurance and confidence for you and everyone. How and when death does comes, I have the promise of life in the reality of the eternal Life. Trusting God and seeking Him daily, with thanksgiving, I leave with Him the matters beyond human control in the now and in the future.

Physically, death will find you, and death will find me. 
It is only an unknown matter 
of moments, days, or years.

There is the living hope of Jesus Christ. While we are living on this earth, there is love for one another, help to one another, and remembrance of  those who have died and those who may yet die at violent hands. On September 11, 2001, for helpless villages of Iraqi citizens in recent weeks, for those beheaded as innocent men in recent days...I hold this living hope that is in Christ. I, along with you and others, honor their lives on earth. We remember in our prayers their families and friends. We hold a promise of free eternal life bought on a cross at Calvary and verified by the Resurrection of Jesus on the third day. By faith in Him, I have this promise of an Eternal Home, through the Person of the living Lord. I earnestly desire that no one fail to claim this great and precious promise.

...Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according 
to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again 
unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
(I Peter 1:3, King James Bible).


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