I received a note from a pastor friend last night, on our way to “Never Forget”, our local observance of 9-11-11. His questions and the answers they prompted are worth sharing, I think – so I’m posting them here.
Thanks for this note, Jake, I appreciate your taking the time to pen your thoughts … and then to let me in on them!
I’m convinced we each have monument-type days in our lives, and when we “anniversialize” them (an old word I just made up) we call to rememberance events that have especially shaped us, or perhaps solidified and confirmed choices we’ve made. For example, the day after Brenda and I decided “no more credit cards – ever – for any reason” I totalled my Celica in rush hour traffic at the beginning of a Wisconsin snowstorm. I could have used a credit card three times that day 1) for the towing, 2) for the deductible, and 3) for the car rental. But we stayed true to our brand new committment. Nobody else much cares about January 21, 2006, but it’s a monument day at our house, one that brings a defining moment back to front and center for us so we can review and reaffirm something significant.
There are (or were) two monuments next to the Jordan river, one on either side, intended to set Jewish children up with the question “Papa, what are these?” So Papa had the opportunity to tell the next generation how God brought their people across the Jordan into this land.
As an American citizen I wasn’t here for 7/4/1776 but I want to always remember the day. It reminds me of something significant.
I wasn’t here to witness the horror of 12/7/1941 but I want to recall what happened that day. From this distance on this side of Pearl Harbor I want to remember what happened that day, the loss of life that day and in the war that ensued, plus the struggle many Americans faced when they tried to overcome their prejudices and biases against people of Japanese decent, even after WWII was over. Biblical grace, mercy and forgiveness can be difficult (understatement of the day) but they’re still needful. Lessons learned – vital. But grudge-holding? Counter-productive.
Though you won’t see all of these addressed in the narrative I’m scripting for Never Forget! These are great questions! I’ll endeavor to at least open the blinds a little on each of them so you know where I’m taking aim on this event just over the horizon.
1.) Who should not be forgetting? (My Japan-missionary brother functions in an environment where many/most will not forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki)
In our context, Americans. We’ll be making the point that we weren’t attacked that day because of a US offensive of some kind, we were attacked because of who we are -or who the terrorists perceived us to be- and 911 wasn’t the first time in our history that’s happened. What can we learn historically from that part of the event?
And as believers – those of faith who attend, anyway. What happened to the revival that sparked the next day? Why was it so short-lived?
2.) What should not be forgotten?
The lessons learned, and the personal application when it happens to us as individuals. We can rise above, but it’s never easy. Determination is huge in times like this.
3.) Why should we never forget?
Major loss. Incredible triumph. Heroism. Lessons learned – or not learned. Stopping a minute to remember “then” could just help us now.
4.) What is the place of 911 in the prophetic mosaic?
While we won’t be going there in our concert, I personally am of the opinion that 9-11-01 and the ten-years following have demonstrated that the US doesn’t play to win the way she used to. “Don’t Tread on Me” was a grave warning at one point in our history. Not now. We’re so concerned about being liked around the world that we’ve chosen a weaker position. Prophetically, I see it as another step toward the end times. The USA isn’t obviously identified in the book of Revelation so far as I can tell; in a prophetical sense, we may be watching our own fade-to-black because we’re getting closer to the end of The Book.
5.) Because of our realization of the need for, and the intention to meaningfully present and proclaim the gospel of our Lord Jesus, what will the Spirit of God design and accomplish by a faithful witness utilizing the highly volatile backdrop of the memory of 911?
I’m praying – and we’re praying at the Prayer Team 911 meetings these Mondays before “Never Forget” – that God will spark a revival in our valley that Sunday evening. Tyson will be retelling Todd Beamer’s story, “Let’s Roll!” (United flight 93) making the point that he was able to act with such courage and resolve because he knew was ready to die. Then “Are you ready? Here’s how you can know you are.” The Gospel. Explained simply and response facilitated right where people sit. Step across the line. Make sure you’re ready. Right here. Right now.
6.) 5 years from now…what will God have blessed, and what will He have not blessed with our 911 labors?
Good question. There’s some local cooperative good we hope to accomplish with “Never Forget” and I’ll be happy to see it happen since I live here, but the greatest gain eternally will be with people who fortify and re-commit to the Lord that day, or cross the line of faith out there at the amphitheater and place their faith in Christ. I’d LOVE to have some Thursday noon discussions about how to disciple and nurture all these brand new Christians!
7.) I wonder what that 21 yr olds, on down remember…or care about … 911?
Hopefully more will care about it after “Never Forget”, even though they weren’t born yet, or were too young to remember. We need to keep telling the stories so our kids DO know what happened and remember the primary take-aways as US citizens, and more importantly as Heaven’s citizens sojourneying here.
8.) I wonder the direction of Ben Franklin’s comment…”When we exchange liberty for security, we will soon have neither”
I’m kind of a wierd bird on things like this. I’m a patriot, but not a veteran. So my exposure and perspective is admittedly limited. And in a word my foreign policy preference is “Be meek” (strength under control). If it was left to me I’d say to leaders abroad “Do what you want – just don’t touch an American citizen, or you’ll regret it. If you live that long.” I admire Israel’s ability to carry out pre-emptive strikes or counter-strikes and not worry about what anybody says or thinks afterwards. Wish we could do that. But I’m just one guy, and there’s a reason God has me out here -in a church- and not in Washington, walking through the rotunda each morning on the way to my desk. I want to do my best with what I’ve been given, where I’m stationed, with our Lord’s “Well done – nice work!” always in view.