Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 - Five Years Later

My personal reflections while in NYC on 9/11/2001 as published in the Hillsborough Beacon newspaper on August 26, 2002:

One year ago, I witnessed an incredible sight on the morning of September 11, 2001.

My colleagues and I were approaching the Lincoln Tunnel on our daily commute into the Port Authority in New York City. The New Jersey Transit bus was loaded with 43 morning commuters, as usual. We prepared ourselves for arrival into midtown Manhattan at approximately 8:59am on that morning as we viewed the Manhattan skyline for the first time. A year later, I still have a vivid memory of how clear it was that day as we witnessed the thick dark gray smoke that was piercing from one of the World Trade Center towers.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001 at Bible study and Friday, September the 14, 2001, in observance of the National Day of Prayer, I joined my church family as we praised God for sparing lives as well as for peace for the families that lost loved ones. In the midst of that terrible event, God took away baseball, football, the Emmy’s, and all regularly scheduled programming, as a means to get our ATTENTION. He desires that we draw closer to Him. God loves us, for we are His children. His Word, The Holy Bible, is His will for our lives. But what lessons have we learned? What changes have we made in our lives? Does God still have our attention or have the events immediately following September 11th become a distant thought?

Last year, the entire Times Square area was filled with people looking up at the large television screens located at 3 Times Square, the ABC News desk, and along the 42nd Street corridor. That is where I first learned about the horrific events of that morning. I arrived at work at 3 Times Square and one-half of the buildings’ occupants, my fellow co-workers, were standing in front of our building looking at the news on the large screens. I e-mailed my Pastor and deacons at our church to urge them to join me in prayer for our country and for all New York City workers, especially those at the World Trade Center. I began to pray at my desk amidst the chaos, panic, chatter, and uncertainty. I remember several colleagues, including my boss, asking me questions while I prayed – and I still prayed. Within the next half hour, my colleagues and I watched in horror, from our 20th floor window, the second tower collapse in its entirety. A group of about thirty of us watched this in total disbelief, yet it was happening. As smoke, brick, mortar, and debris filled the air, there was nothing that we could do but think about the massive loss of life. Midtown Manhattan came to a halt on September 11th. Traffic was null and void. No yellow taxis were to be found. People were conscience but in a state of shock. There was uncertainty in the air. Today, Times Square is the envy of all major cities in the world. Tourists are everywhere, construction is flourishing, Toys R Us is a key attraction with an indoor ferris wheel, another McDonalds has moved into the heart of 42nd Street theater district, and there is a new mayor in town. Business is back as usual and thriving.

On Wednesday, September 11, 2002, and the weeks following, this country’s citizens, young and old alike, will be reminded through radio and television programming about the tragic events that took place one year ago. Most Americans do not recall that the United States Department of State acknowledged in their September 12, 2001 public announcement that they had been warned on May 11, 2001 “that American citizens may be the target of a terrorist threat from extremist groups…” Unfortunately, the warning was not taken seriously and I doubt that the announcement, if properly communicated, would have caused much concern. I encourage my fellow citizens to carefully observe the times in which we are living. Take heed to the warnings that we see and hear each day through print and television media. The economy is no longer robust as it was under the Clinton Administration, corporate executives are being openly punished and humiliated, as they should, for willful misconduct that negatively affects the lives of thousands of employees, multi-billion dollar corporations are filing for bankruptcy protection as a means to save face, personal bankruptcy is at an all time high, police officers are still being videotaped abusing their authority as witnessed in Englewood, California in July, the value of family has deteriorated to the extent of becoming less meaningful than one’s desire to please their employer, and the dotcom and telecommunications bubbles that once seemed impenetrable have burst.

As I study, meditate and pray about what God is speaking to me in His Word, I often refer to the Book of Hebrews, chapter 4, verse 12 – “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Do not allow yourself, or your loved one’s, to lose focus of last year’s tragedy. It received worldwide attention as the global economy was shaken, but smaller and less publicized daily events can be just as devastating if you ignore the signs. For the word of God is quick – God can and will quickly change your heart and mind to put the concern of others before yourself (Acts 10:34-35). …and powerful – God is omnipotent, meaning that He is all power. All power comes from Him because He is our source (Psalm 24:1). …and sharper than any than twoedged sword – God’s Word cuts to the core of man’s being much like the surgeon’s scalpel that is used during surgery. The sharp blade makes a clean cut so that the surgeon can remove a diseased organ from the body. So it is with God; He cuts us with His Word to remove the old habits, lifestyle, and ways so that He can insert what is good and righteous (Romans 3:25). …piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit – His Word will penetrate to the core of mankind, even to the point to where the mind (soul) and the spirit (the inner man) meet and have communication (1 Thessalonians 5:23 and 3 John 2). …and of the joints and marrow – The joints represent how the body (and humankind) is connected together so that it can function as intended. The elbow is useless without a forearm and the shoulder blade cannot perform its intended function without an arm. The marrow is located inside the bone where blood is manufactured. Blood is what sustains life form. Without blood, there is no life (Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:11;14). …and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart – God is omnipresent, thus, He knows our thoughts before we can speak them. He knows the intent of your heart before we can act upon them (Psalm 44:21 and 139:1-2).

As we reflect upon September 11, 2001 and seek comfort in the midst of the changes that constantly bombard our lives, please remember this: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).” God loves you. Ask Him to come into your heart today.