SHORTLY AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 we began to hear the hear “Never Forget”. Never forget the tragic loss of life on 9-11-2001. Never forget the heroes that ran into fiery buildings on 9-11-2001. Never forget the vulnerabilities of our country. Never forget that our nation has enemies. Never forget. And for the next 21 years, the thoughts and images of 9-11 were foremost on my mind on the days leading up to this terrible anniversary.
SADLY, THIS YEAR, even for a short time, I forgot. Driving to work this morning I listened to the news and was again reminded of the terrible events of this day 22 years ago. For the next two hours I listened to replays of the news coverage that I watched live on September 11, 2001 from my hotel room in Orlando, Florida.
TODAY I HEARD STORIES I heard repeated stories of heroism that I’ve heard before. I heard of a firefighter on his way home after working the midnight shift. He was two miles away from the World Trade Center when he heard of the explosion. Despite plans to play golf later that day with his brothers, he turned his truck around and was stopped at the Brooklyn Battery tunnel which had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped on 60 pounds of gear and raced on foot through the tunned, two miles, to the Twin Towers where he lost his life while saving the lives of others. He left behind a wife and five children.
I HEARD A NEW STORY about Heather Penney. We served our nation as an Air National Guardswoman on 9-11. She was in an unarmed F-16 and ordered to take down a civilian plane headed toward Washington DC. She was prepared to give her life in a suicide mission to protect our nation’s capitol.
THE EMOTIONS ARE STILL NEARLY OVERWHELMING all these years later. As I type these words I’m listening to the live memorial service occurring in New York City as relatives of those killed on that day read the names of the 2,977 victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on our nation. Many of those reading names are the grandchild of grandparents they never met, children of parents they can barely remember and siblings that are grieving the loss of their best friends. I’m sad about the events of 9-11. I’m sad that this year, even for a moment, I forgot.
THAT GOT ME TO THINKING – do we remember the sacrifice of our Lord as we should? What happened at Calvary is an event we should NEVER FORGET. On that day, our Lord and God’s Son, suffered on a cross for me and for you. Every day we can live our lives free from the built of sin, free from the fear of Hell, and encouraged by the hope of heaven. But, do we remember?
ONE OF THE YOUNGER CHRISTIANS in our congregation has begun concluding a number of his text messages with this great reminder from Romans 10:9-10. That passage says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that your profess your faith and are saved.” I’m so proud of that young man for sharing his faith in this way. I’d like to now challenge you to NEVER FORGET what happened 2,000 years ago that secured your salvation. Don’t forget. Don’t take it for granted. And, honor God with your life.
WE HONOR THE VICTIMS AND HEROES OF 911, by special events, tributes and memorials. We honor our Lord by our lifestyle. Romans 12 1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
WHEN YOU LOVE OTHERS, instead of hate, you honor God. When you obey God’s will rather than serve your sensual appetite, you honor God. When you give Him your first and best rather than your leftovers, you honor God.