Today, my coworker said to me, “We all have a story about where we were when we heard that the Twin Towers had been hit.” She’s right, this was an event that we as Americans watched together in disbelief, an event which broke our hearts and yet bonded us together in a unique way.
My story was much like everyone else’s. I turned on the television around 6:15 am PST. I just wanted to catch a few minutes of news before dashing out the door to work. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see what I saw. I flipped from channel to channel, but they all showed the same thing. Like watching a horror movie, I stood rooted to the spot, aghast at what I was witnessing. As a west coaster, the events of the day were well under way by the time I crawled out of bed, and the second tower had been hit just minutes earlier.
In a state of numbness I left for work. Mechanically I backed the car out of the garage and traveled several miles before the enormity of what I’d seen hit me. Unable to bear it on my own, I called my mom and woke her up.
“They’ve just flown planes into the Twin Towers,” I said in a choked voice.
“Who? What?” I heard her confused voice answer me.
“Turn on the tv mom,” I whispered into the phone.
She tried to comfort me, but we both knew our world had changed forever.
In the following days and weeks, we all had more stories to tell. I helped arrange for transportation for our CEO stuck in Canada; my heart soared as I watched people on street corners with signs declaring their love for our nation; and I viewed in horror pictures of people plummeting to their deaths from the towers. It was those pictures that would haunt me. I wished that I had not seen them – that I could somehow erase them from my mind, but I could not. Every time I thought of those people, I imagined them making the decision to jump to their deaths rather than realize the agony of burning alive in the building. I knew that many of those people had fled from one fire only to enter another – an eternal fire, and this was the thought that tortured me.
In the coming weeks and months, I did not care what people thought of me. I asked an elderly man next to me on an airplane if he was afraid. When he admitted that he was, I shared the gospel with him. I gave him a tract and watched him read it. I will NEVER forget, I told myself. I will remember that people all around me are dying and going to hell. But sadly, time helped me to stop thinking so often and urgently about the people around me who are dying. What had stirred so deeply in my heart had grown less critical.
As I approach the anniversary of this horrible act of terror committed against our country, I remind myself of a promise made nine years ago, I will never forget that people around me are every moment entering into a Christless eternity. What am I doing to rescue them?
II Peter 3:9 “The Lord is…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
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