Twenty years of change

How can it be true?

Twenty years ago, I was having my second cup of coffee after having dropped my boys off at school when the taped hour of Good Morning America went live. Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer were reporting what they knew, which wasn’t much at that time. 

A plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers. 

As they were talking, all of us watched and were horrified as the second plane hit. 

That was the moment I knew something was really, really wrong.

I rushed to the phone and called Jim’s direct line at the church, telling him to turn the television on. 

Truthfully, the rest of that day seems like a blur. I wanted to rush to the school and get the boys, but I knew that wasn’t logical. I did go to the bank and the grocery store to stock up. That wasn’t logical either, but it gave me something productive to do—just in case. 

Those moments were twenty years ago, but the memories remain powerful.

Twenty years of change

What has changed in your life in the past twenty years? Does it even seem possible that 9/11 was twenty years ago? 

A lot has changed since that time: 

  • My boys grew up, got married, and had children of their own.
  • I’ve grown used to the TSA lines at the airport and watching a stranger go through my suitcase.
  • I don’t watch Good Morning America very often anymore.
  • I don’t wonder if terrorists will try again; I wonder if we will catch them.
  • I have four grandchildren who deserve a wonderful nation to grow up in.
  • We have a ministry that reaches millions of people with the word of God.
  • And God is still reigning in heaven from his throne of mercy and judgment.

How can it have been twenty years since that fearful day? 

Two decades of changes, but also two decades of lessons learned. 

All of us have learned to take our shoes off and put them in a bin at the airport. All of us have learned to pack our liquids in small bottles. All of us have learned to question our political leadership.  

Hopefully, we have learned a lot spiritually as well. 

We have learned we need God

Twenty years ago, I watched as the second plane hit the tower and knew we were under attack. 

I started praying after I called Jim, asking the Lord to stop whatever was happening. I knew only God could stop it. 

Later, I heard the news about the downed plane in Pennsylvania. That plane never reached its target, and I saw that as a tragic answer to my prayer. A lot of us had prayed the same prayer that day and it was a Christian man, Todd Beamer, who led a group on his plane to attack the cockpit. They stopped the plane from reaching Washington, D.C. We needed God to work, and it is no surprise that it was a child of God who “listened” and obeyed. God often answers prayers through those who listen to his Spirit. 

Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” 

I wonder what need God wants his people to pray those 9/11 kind of prayers for today? 

We need God to work today, just as much as we needed him twenty years ago. 

We have learned that others will blame God

One of the most troubling changes we have seen in the past twenty years is the attitude of many in our nation toward the Lord, his church, and his word. Some people openly blamed the Christian faith for what happened on 9/11. Many more quietly blamed the “religions” of both sides for the animosity and acts of war. 

After twenty years of spoken (and unspoken) blame, the church has grown quietly un-evangelistic in her programs. One of my favorite quotes is from Archbishop William Temple. He served the church in the first half of the twentieth century and is quoted as saying, “The church is the only organization that does not exist for itself, but for those who live outside of it.” One hundred years later, would we still say that is true of our churches? 

Are Christians naïve to believe that “things” are going to change and the world is going to, once again, value the role our faith has played in the life of America? 

It is biblical to believe that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). It is also biblical truth that God disciplines and judges the sins of the world. What should we be praying for like we prayed on 9/11? 

Our nation is still under attack. Our greatest enemy is unseen. 

Peter told the church, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). 

People will continue to blame religion for what is wrong in the world. It’s the job of every Christian to glorify God for all that is right. If we will take the time to “be prepared” and use every opportunity to share the “hope” that we have with “gentleness and respect,” we will change the culture one conversation at a time.  

If we can’t change the culture, we will at least change some lives. Others will be given the chance to live eternally when Christians choose to live with God’s priorities. 

Is there a more important goal for the next twenty years?

We have learned that God is still God

God told the prophet Malachi, “For I the Lᴏʀᴅ do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). 

Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” 

And, it is still true that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). 

God is still God. God’s word is still truth. God’s people are still promised heaven. Jesus is still “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).  

The world will continually change, but the Creator of this world does not.

Twenty years from now

The past twenty years have flown by and we have all seen many changes. I find great comfort in knowing that the faith that carried me through 9/11/01 is still the faith that carries me on 9/11/21. And, if I’m not in heaven yet, it will be the faith I celebrate twenty years from now, on 9/11/41. 

We will hear a lot this week about the passage of time and twenty years of change. I wanted to write a blog post that reminded all of us of the timeless, eternal character of God.  

People need to hear that message this week. Remember Peter’s words, which are as true today as when he wrote them. Let’s “be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks” and let’s share the reason “for the hope” that is in us with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).  

If that is what you and I do for the next twenty years, there will be a lot more people who will know our Lord. Is there anything more important to pray “with confidence” about today?

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