Country singer Alan Jackson sings a wonderful song that asks a powerful question: “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” about the events of 9/11/2001. Here we are at the five-year anniversary of that horrific day and people have been asking that very same question again: “Where were you when you found out about the terrorist attacks?” Personally, I was on the phone and the person I called told me about the planes crashing…and the terror. We quickly finished talking and I left to watch the news.
Our foster daughter, Cass, who would be moving in with us in just a couple of months, was sitting in school in the little town of Shanksville… and felt the earth shake when Flight 93 crashed into a field less than two miles from her school…
How about you? Where were you? And what were your initial reactions? Your first thoughts? What did you do next?
Jackson runs through a series of questions asking what people did next: “Did you dust off that Bible at home?” Did you “Open your eyes and hope it never happened, close your eyes and not go to sleep.” Did you turn off the TV violence, give blood, buy a gun, or go home and cling tight to your family…
You know, this ‘singer of simple songs’ is really on to something… we each had choices to make following those events. In the book of Job, the Bible teaches that even when our world crashes around us, we still have choices as to how we respond. We couldn’t control what those terrorists did, but we ARE in control of how WE respond… We make the choice of how we deal with fear and terror, uncertainty and anger, just as we’re responsible for our choices in every other situation in our lives.
Just like this song says, some people did respond by turning for protection by buying a gun. Others responded by wishing the whole thing had never happened, or being overwhelmed by such fear that they couldn’t sleep at night. Some responded by seeking for ways to help, by giving blood or sending money, or not far from here where one of the planes went down by serving meals and making donations. Some turned to God in prayer, at church, and by reading their Bibles.
Even as Christians, we faced those same kinds of choices didn‘t we? We had to choose who to run to, who to talk to and share our feelings and emotions with, and what to do next. And like everyone else, we immediately felt alone… And that’s where we Christians have our first advantage over others… For we believe in Jesus, who is called “Emmanuel,” which means: “God with is.” (Matthew 1:23). People were asking “where was God?” and the truth is that He was there in the planes, He was there in the towers and in the Pentagon. He was there with YOU when you first heard and then walked through those mind-numbing next few days and weeks. Jesus said “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20)
Secondly, our protection in this sin-sick world, is never going to be found in guns or more violence… Even our military attempts at silencing this or that particular terrorist will never be completely successful, but God reminds us that He is our “refuge” and our “strength”… He is the “ever-present help” we can turn to in times of trouble and not be afraid. (Psalm 46:1-2)
Third, Jackson’s chorus echoes words of truth we read in the Bible that say “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18) and of “faith, hope, and love.” (I Corinthians 13:13) Our fear will give way to peace, even in the worst of circumstances if we can get closer to our God… about whom the Bible says “God is Love.” (I John 4:8). Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Go to Him, get closer to Him, read what His word has to say, pray and talk with Him, and feel His peace.
–adapted from “Pastor’s Ponderings” by Dayton D. Mix, Trinity UMC, Patton, Sept. 2002
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