Today's passage: Luke 21:28
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."
Ten years ago tomorrow, I lifted my head, started my morning routine, and drove to work. I taught third grade. My husband and I (no kids yet) had just bought our house that May. I was just getting used to the morning rush hour commute, having only been driving to the school for a few weeks. We live across town, couldn't afford anything on the side of the city where both of us worked, so I spent my usual 35-45 minute ride listening to the radio, thinking about who knows what since I didn't have kids fighting and complaining or asking questions in the back seats. It is hard to remember what life was like before children, and yet I had a very full and busy one teaching. I didn't hear the reports on the radio because I arrived early enough for teacher's meeting. I was actually on time. In Chicago, you can leave at the same time every day, and still arrive at a different time. But this morning, I was a little early. Every morning we had devotions and prayer requests before starting the day. Our kindergarten teacher is the one who asked for prayer because she heard that a plane had hit the top of the World Trade Center. As most everyone thought, without having seen any pictures, we assumed a little Cessna had calculated terribly and possibly skimmed the top, only injuring those on board. It seemed like one of those fluke accidents you sometimes hear about. As was often my routine, following the meeting, I went into the school kitchen to pour my cup of coffee (this is where I started the caffeine habit) ready to face the day. Little did I know what a day it was to be. As I was talking with some co-workers, our principal came into the kitchen and said to us, "Another plane has hit the World Trade Center". Conversation stopped. We were in disbelief. Another one had hit? Well, then, that had to mean...Yes, he told us, we were under attack. Living in a city like Chicago, you automatically think you are a target. We aren't exactly under the radar, and if you have ever seen our downtown, it would be a terrorist's dream. I can get to O'hare International Airport in ten minutes. I stress International because if we were at war, and hijacked planes were being used as missiles, what was next? I tried to process this information as quickly as I could because I had about twenty 8 and 9 year olds to teach that morning. Children are very intuitive. They can sense when something is not right. I was in the middle of Bible class when our school secretary discreetly slipped in and told me another plane had hit the Pentagon. The Pentagon? Not 20 years ago, my own father had worked in that building. Suddenly a personal connection. I had been to his office. This is a place I knew.
Parents started arriving (many who worked downtown, which had mostly been evacuated, just in case) to pick up children. Some of them because they had nothing else to do for the rest of the day as their workday had ended early, some of them because they felt the sudden need to have their little ones close. At break times, teachers would visit the school kitchen where a TV had been set up (this was not the norm) so we could catch updates. This is how we heard about the plane going down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania although we weren't entirely certain if it was related to the other three. Then I saw replays of the towers crashing to the ground one by one. We had been given word that all the planes had been grounded. This was of great relief and great concern. As I monitored the children playing outside, carefree, every plane that flew overhead was distressing. Was it obeying orders to get out of the air, or was it on a renegade mission? After a while, the sky became eerily quiet. In Chicago, there always seems to be a plane flying overhead, so the absence of them was odd.
I drove home listening to the reports of all that happened that day, by that time I had learned that the fourth plane was taken down by the brave passengers on-board. I heard about many of the rescue workers who had been killed on their way up to save those trapped in the towers. Arriving home, I switched on the television, toggling between channels that had only the coverage of this horrific day. It was then that I saw people leaping to their deaths. I sobbed convulsively. People trying to escape the flames, but if unsaved, were falling into even greater flames.
As I lifted my head that gorgeous Tuesday morning, the weather here as pleasant as it was in New York City, I had no idea what would transpire that day. As New Yorkers, and Washingtonians and all those who boarded Flight 93 lifted their heads from their pillows, ten years ago, they thought they were going to have an ordinary day. As those in Manhattan lifted their heads to look up at the devastation above, they saw what looked like unleashed fury.
But some of them, in death, lifted their heads, and as they went to glory saw their Redeemer. One day, I will lift up my head and it will not be to see these disturbing images that are played each year as a reminder to us what happened that day, but it will be to see my Lord and Savior coming to take me Home. It will be to see Jesus, white robed, gathering all those who have accepted Him as the only Way, to take us to Heaven. My redemption will be near. We will never forget what happened on September 11, 2001. We will never forget those who gave their lives, and those who continue to give lives to save us. Somebody else gave His life. It was Jesus Christ, and if you have never accepted Him today, don't wait. Lift up your head and see that He died for you. Your redemption is right there, waiting to save you. You may not need to be saved from a hijacked airplane. You may not need to be saved from a burning building, but if you do not know where you are going after this life, you may as well be in one of those situations. Please visit my page: Understanding Salvation if you have any questions about how you can know for sure that you will see Jesus at the end of this life. Then one day you can lift up your head and see His hand outstretched to you, as He will to so many others who have accepted Him as their Savior, welcoming you into your eternal Home.