Today is September 11th.
Before 2001, that would mean nothing. Now, it means everything. This morning, I have been on Google looking at image after image of the attacks and the aftermath. It’s heart wrenching. Like millions of Americans, I was watching the live television broadcast after the first plane hit. We were watching, live, as the other plane banked hard toward the second building. We were watching, live, as the plane struck the building and a ball of fire erupted into the sky. I don’t even know if anyone let out a gasp. I don’t even know if we stopped to breathe. If you watched this unfold, you already know. It was just that shocking.
This morning, as I have been thinking and processing the anniversary of these attacks, something hit me. It hit me pretty hard. The attacks of 9/11 and the surrounding events are a vivid metaphor of our Christian lives. We can learn a lot from September 11th regarding our faith in three specific areas.
3 spiritual lessons from 9/11
We are in the middle of a war
Before September 11th, 2001, we knew the world was at war. Every night, we saw horror and violence on the news. But, as Americans, we all shared one common assumption: That’s them. That’s over there. Thankfully, that will never happen here! Today, in 2015, that seems like such a naive and ignorant worldview, but in 2001 it wasn’t. It was how things were. We were America. Who would mess with us? What we didn’t realize, or choose to be blinded to, was the entire world was at war. Including us. We were in the middle of a global fight, and we didn’t even realize it. That was what made 9/11 such a shock. How could this happen to us?
In our spiritual lives, we face the same issue. The Bible is clear:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8 NIV
We may not realize it. We may want to keep a blind eye to it. But here is the truth. We are in the middle of a spiritual war that we cannot see. If you are a follower of Christ, then Satan is on the lookout, waiting to take you down. Why do you think so many people pastors fall to sexual temptation? They were targets. They forgot they were in middle of a war. And they fell.
Satan plays for keeps. And he will not stop until your life is destroyed and you’ve lost everything. I know this sounds scary. But I would rather you know the truth and be forced to deal with it rather than trying to pick up the pieces after a bomb goes off in your life. This brings us to number two.
We MUST be prepared
The experts agree. The attacks of September 11th happened for one key reason: We were not prepared. Since we never thought it could happen on our own soil, we had not prepared ourselves for that possibility. Remember how easy it was to board a plane before 9/11? There was no Homeland Security or official TSA. We simply assumed the CIA and FBI were doing their jobs. But please don’t interrupt my life until something important happens.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Now, we live in a different world. The phrase “terror attacks” are mentioned all of the time. If a bomb goes off anywhere, we immediately wonder if it was an act of terror, someone attacking the U.S. Even though we had national tragedies before 9/11, we just thought it was one crazy person (e.g. the Una-bomber). Terror attacks were saved for suicide bombers in the Middle East. But after 9/11, that has all changed. While things are not perfect, the past 14 years have been a move toward greater and greater preparedness.
In our spiritual lives, we also must be prepared. We MUST! If we are in the middle of a spiritual war that we cannot see, the only action we can take is to be prepared. Fortunately, the Bible addresses this:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV
We have to go Code Orange with our faith. We must be on high alert. And we must be prepared. This is the only way we can be ready when Satan strikes. And he will strike. For your own sake, for your family’s sake, and for the sake of your future, please be ready. Grow close to God. That is our only true defense.
Even in the aftermath, God is there
You may have seen the photo of the cross they found in the rubble of the twin towers, created from a piece of the destroyed structure. Many people took comfort in this image.
After all the destruction. After all of the chaos. After all of the hurt and pain. The cross stood in the middle of it all.
Maybe it’s too late. Maybe you have already experienced a devastating attack. Maybe you have a very real and personal understanding that we are at war. Maybe a bomb has already gone off in your life.
It was in 2001 that the twin towers were hit. 14 years ago. But it was in 2002, 13 years ago, that the bomb went off in my own life. That was the year I had an affair. That was the year everything fell apart. I lost everything. My house, my job, my friends, and my pregnant wife.
But like 9/11, this isn’t a story of destruction, it is a story of love, grace, forgiveness and rebirth.
A decade later, I am able to write a post like this. I am able to encourage you and prepare you in case life blows up. After my marriage ended, God wasn’t done with me. He has blessed me with a woman that loves me unconditionally. She knows my past, and she accepts me for the man I am today. Not the mistakes of my past. I have three amazing children that I adore. And I have a calling on my life to use my past to give you hope for your future.
You see, just like the cross at the twin towers, Jesus is always here. In the midst of the pain, the regret, the hurt, and the destruction, He is there. He was there from the beginning, and He didn’t leave when things went south.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.””
Joshua 1:9 NIV
As Americans, we were never forget the tragedies that took place on September 11th, 2001. You will never forget what you saw and what we all experienced together. But through this tragedy, we have experienced hope.
Take some time today for some reflection. Remember. And as you reflect on the events of 9/11 and what it has meant for our country, think about these three areas in your spiritual life…
- We are in the middle of a spiritual war.
- We must be prepared.
- Even if something tragic happens, Jesus will be there right in the middle to bring us hope and comfort!