It’s hard for me to believe that it was 13 years ago today when suddenly our world changed. I was in ninth grade. Like every other American, I remember exactly where I was. The details of that day are forever etched in my memory, as if it happened last week. It seemed like an ordinary Tuesday morning for a high school girl. I was always up late Monday nights, trying to catch up with homework in-between phone calls with friends after field hockey practice. Staying up late spilled over into waking up late, and I made it to school just by the skin of my teeth, hoping not to get a “late” mark. It was chapel that morning in the gym of our small Christian school, and my friend, Will, was about to lead some of the praise music…but instead of our typical worship time, he stood solemnly and told us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center- the Twin Towers. I shuffled in my seat, a little uncomfortable, feeling like something was terribly wrong, but I couldn’t quite grasp it. I whispered to friends as we weren’t even exactly sure what the World Trade Center was. I thought it was those tall buildings I always saw when passing through New York on Route 95 on the way to family vacations in Maine, but I wasn’t positive. Chapel didn’t go as usual. We just stopped and prayed.
We prayed for our country, for the many lives lost-not actually knowing much at all about the after-effects of this crash. We prayed for protection against terrorists. I had never even heard the word terrorist in my life, as far as I could remember. I seemed to have lived in a world without terror. A world of hope. A world, in my 13-year-old eyes, full of peace. Wars and rumors of wars were a thing of the past…things we read about in Mrs. Byrd’s history class and Mrs. Stephen’s world civilizations class. And how odd it is today, to think about ninth grade students now, who were only infants or toddlers the day of the attacks. To them, it is something read in history books. The fact is, we live in a post 9/11 world and terror is a very real threat every day, even when we don’t consciously think about it.
Here we are after the sorrow of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here we are after countless men and women have died to protect our freedom. Here we are with even a greater amount now suffering physical and psychological injuries from the battlefield. Here we are where a new terror group has risen to power in the Middle East, threatening peace, freedom, faith, and families all over the world. Here we are where, sadly, many have forgotten and keep their heads in the sand, building houses of hope on shaky sediment, wishing storms had never happened and ignoring the looming storms threatening to topple their sandcastles. For those who forget, I just wish I could hand them the DVD of my dear friend Jack’s story- a fire fighter from New Jersey who went in after the planes hit to ground zero with his brave squad, risking their lives to rescue others. If you could hear Jack’s story and see him weep, you would be compelled to never forget.
Now as I type this, looking back, how different a world it seems to me. Yes, my reality shifted that day thirteen years ago. But even as the world around us changes, our anchor never changes. I think about the promise written in the New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 6 verse 19, “[Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it]…” Do you hear that promise? Under whoever steps out upon it. What is stepping out upon your hope today, trying to crush it? Is it the threat of evil and terror? Is it the agony of a lost loved one? Is it uncertainty of the future? Is it the inner pain you are facing emotionally or physically? Is it bad news or profound fear of bad news? Is it broken relationship or a broken heart or a broken spirit? Please, as we remember the events of 9/11/2001 and honor those lives who were lost and the families who still mourn them today, let us carry a new banner of hope. For the Enemy we face is quite honestly greater than any terror group on this earth. Those threatening terror are as pawns on a chess board to the actual Enemy and the war he rages. But our Enemy cannot break our hope.
Our hope will not slip or break down under the threats he challenges, because the Lord Jesus Christ has offered this very hope as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. This anchor is immovable by time and space. It is immovable even under attack. So we carry a BANNER OF HOPE and we champion that hope in light of the past and in light of the future.
As you listen to this song I wrote back in ninth grade after the attacks, meditate on this verse I remember Mr. Stevens, our school headmaster, sharing…
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]’