|World Trade Center today|
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I unlocked the door to my office on the 12th floor of the Woolfolk State Office Building about 7:15AM – my usual time. As I began to unload my briefcase, turn on my computer and get ready for the day, I heard a co-worker around the corner, emotionally, saying over and over – “oh no, oh no, that is not a film, that is happening for real!” I ran to her cubicle to see what was the matter and over her shoulder watched horrified as CNN streamed live the second plane, United Flight 175, crashing into the South Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC). Then they replayed the first plane crashing (AA Flight 11) into the North Tower.
You know where the day went from there. Both towers collapsed within two hours, destroying and damaging nearby buildings. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon (AA Flight 77) and a fourth plane headed for Washington DC crashed in a field near Shanksville PA through the heroic efforts of the the passengers who fought to take control of the plane likely, through their efforts, saved countless additional lives (United Flight 93). Nearly 3000 folks died that day – all the passengers on the four flights, 180+ at the Pentagon, many more at the WTC including numerous first responders. Certainly was one of those days where time stood still, you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing, and where, for me at least, I remember catching myself holding my breath for long long periods of time. For the first time in my very protected life, I (and many others) experienced real fear.
I confess that while I pray “about work” all the time, I walk the fine line in calling co-workers together for prayer. Sure when we share a meal together corporately, we pray, but until that day, I had never asked them to pray openly with me. That day, though, I knew somehow that as their leader, God intended me to lead in this way. His intentions were very clear to me. My staff were (are) very diverse. Among them were Christians and non-Christians and from many ethnic backgrounds; people who were growing in Christ, and folks who had not given church, must less their personal relationship with Christ, a second thought in a long time (if ever). And I work for the government and you only have to read the papers to know how that goes…
Regardless – I sent out an email and said that at a certain time that afternoon, I was going to be in the 12th Floor Conference Room and invited anyone who wanted to join me to come. It was overwhelming – folks came and came and came. We prayed and prayed and prayed. We cried and we loved on each other and we loved God. And we wondered would we ever have peace again.
Over the years since, I have thought back often to that day. It opened doors for some of us to minister to others. More importantly, though, it made me think about why does it take a tragedy of that magnitude to call us together in His Name? And then I think about what God told Abraham (Genesis 18-19) as Abraham approached God about sparing Sodom and Gomorrah.
Dr. Pollard shared this in his message on 1-19-1991 (yes – I have dates on the notes in my Bible!). He reminded us of these things:
“Peace does not have much to do with what is going on around us. It has to do with what is going on within us. We are to pray for peace for the world through knowing Jesus Christ. Our purpose is to pray for our world. It would only have taken ten (10) righteous (souls) to save Sodom and Gomorrah. How many praying people will it take to save our world?”
As we approach this somber anniversary, we are again reminded we are to pray for our world. As David warned Solomon in I Chronicles 28:9: “Know the God of your father, and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.”
I don’t know about you, but the idea of God rejecting me forever is not something I remotely want to contemplate. I personally plan to join the international moment of silence in remembrance on 9-11-2011 and invite you to do the same. More important, though, is that together during these days seek Him with all of our hearts and pray for our world.