The day began much as any other weekday—get the family out the door to school, finish dressing for the day, and stop at the office. This day would also include a drive to Taylor for a meeting with pastors from across Michigan. Typically, my truck radio was tuned to Detroit’s WWJ-AM 950 all-news radio. Although that Tuesday, September 11, 2001, may have begun routinely, it was about to change.
Even as I muttered about the rush hour traffic along I-96, unaware of the events transpiring in the skies over New York, governmental agencies were scrambling, trying to locate American Airlines Flight 11 on radar—to no avail—until it crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. At 8:48a, the first live pictures broke in New York City on WNYW-TV. In horror, New Yorkers watched a live feed as more than 100 people, trapped by fire and smoke in the upper floors, jumped to their deaths. But this is only the beginning of horrors.
Before these details can be understood, American Airlines Flight 77 is hijacked at approximately 8:50a. At 8:51a a flight controller at New York Center notices a problem on United Flight 175 from Boston to LA. Attempts to establish contact are futile.
At 08:52 F-15s are scrambling from Otis Air National Guard Base. By 08:56, the transponder for Flight 77 is turned off and primary radar contact is lost. The aircraft travels undetected for 36 minutes due east toward Washington, D.C.
At 08:58, United Airlines Flight 175 takes a heading toward New York City, where at 09:02 the plane and its passengers crash into the south face of the South Tower of the World Trade Center at a speed of 590 MPH.
While early news coverage by at least three major networks is focusing on the first plane crash, millions of Americans see the impact of the second plane live. Parts of the plane leave the building from two sides, falling to the ground up to six blocks away.
By 09:08, the FAA has banned all takeoffs nationwide. At 09:26 the FAA bans all civilian aircraft regardless of destination—a national groundstop is in effect.
But at 09:28, hijackers storm the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93, commandeering the flight. Meanwhile, at 09:37 American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the western side of the Pentagon. All 64 crew and passengers onboard are killed, as are 125 Pentagon personnel.
At 09:42, Ben Stiley of the FAA grounds all air traffic over the United States and diverts incoming international traffic to alternate destinations. US airspace is shut down. All aircraft in flight are ordered to land at the nearest airport as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, a few civilian heroes on Flight 93 begin a passenger revolt at 09:57, less than two minutes before the South Tower of the World Trade Center begins to collapse—56 minutes and 2 seconds after the impact of United Flight 175.
At 10:03, United Airlines Flight 93 is crashed into the rural terrain of Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
Back in Washington, D.C., the west side of the Pentagon collapses, followed by the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 10:28. This collapse is also viewed on live television.
In the span of less than two hours—before anyone could really grasp what was taking place—thousands of lives had been lost. As country singer Alan Jackson asked in song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?
As some of us watched in stunned horror, we could not help but recall (Psalm 9:17 KJV) The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Could there be a man or woman alive who witnessed these horrific scenes who was not wondering, “What is happening to America?”
Surely, such a series of tragedies should serve as a clarion wake-up call for Americans to soberly contemplate—“God, what do you want us to see, to understand, to learn from these attacks?” Although man may have meant it for evil, is there some good that God can bring from this?
By the time President George W. Bush retired just before midnight ten years ago, he had penned into his journal these words: “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century took place today … “
Indeed, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated in his speech to Congress, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked … “
And today, September 11, 2011, we are commemorating a day of infamy. Let us never shy away from the searing memories of that September day, lest we forget the price that was paid …
… by innocent people who were ruthlessly slaughtered as they were just doing their jobs
… by the heroes who risked and gave their lives in an honorable attempt to save as many lives as they possibly could before they themselves paid the ultimate price
… by those brave men and women who risked their lives in service to their fellow-man, and who will live with the haunting memories and physical handicaps for the remainder of their natural lives
… by the thousands of nameless men and women around the globe who, in the first few hours of multiple tragedies were scrambling to make intelligent and fast decisions to avert further disaster
BTW, do you pray? If so, join me in a prayer of thanksgiving for those Americans—both living and deceased—who performed beyond their natural abilities during this crisis which has changed and challenged America.
Today, we should also consider that, sadly, our nation is in decline. The warning signs are everywhere. The caution flags are waving. The child of God should not be shocked as we review events of the last decade, while using 2 Timothy 3 as a prophetic template for understanding.
Those who know God and His Word must understand two critical things:
First, these are the last days and the human picture will not be a pretty one, but rather a scene that declines from bad-to-worse. Second, as believers, we are called upon to remain faithful, fervent, fearless, and fruitful.
Faithful does not mean a fatalistic outlook on life, and neither does it mean that we resign ourselves to thinking that our lives cannot or will not make a positive difference on the world in which we live. Faithfulness means that we fearlessly set our sights toward the future, believing that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us for His cause. It mean that we throw ourselves into the battle for eternal souls throughout our world, since God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Therefore, we should determine on this occasion, that we will renew our commitment to God, presenting our bodies as living sacrifices in His service, that by all means available to us, we might save some.
BTW, do you pray? If so, why not pray–right now– that kind of commitment prayer to God?
Finally, on this tenth anniversary of 9—11, we are not only commemorating a day of infamy, and considering a nation in decline, but we should also be calling our nation to repentance.
At 7:24p, September 11, 2001, members of Congress joined together on the steps of the United States Capitol and sang, “God Bless America!” While I firmly believe in that great song—made famous by vocalist Kate Smith– Congress should have been leading this nation in prayers of repentance, thereby giving God a viable reason to bless America. They did not do so, and based on the track record of the last decade, they apparently have no intention of doing so.
My question is this—even if Congress will not truly embrace the biblical principles and precepts that our founding fathers held dear, will you? Will the people who claim to know God choose to live like we know Him?
(2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV) If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
While we may sing of God’s blessings on America, “obedience is better than sacrifice!” How much pressure will it take to bring America to our knees in repentance? We need leaders whose character runs deeper than the latest photo-op.
Has a decade laden with disasters not captured our attention? If the vicious attacks of 9-11 didn’t turn our nation to God, what will? Hurricane Katrina wasn’t enough wake-up call? When Irene came knocking recently, were we listening? Do current crime statistics and news reports of violence not arrest our attention? Will prolonged unemployment rates not help us to consider our ways?
God will not force us to make decisions to obey and follow Him, whether as individuals or as nations—but often throughout history, the bitter consequences of disobedience traditionally do one of two things: lead us to repentance or to further harden our hearts in defiant resistance.
A wise young leader of a nation once stated, (Joshua 24:15 GWT) But if you don’t want to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve … (but) … my family and I will still serve the LORD.”
My appeal to you is simple: Make a fresh commitment to God today to become a man or woman if influence for Christ. With Elijah of old, I say to you, (1 Kings 18:21 KJV) How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.
It is insufficient for modern believers to drift along ambivalently or complacently in these closing moments of time, considering that the eternal destiny of millions of people is at stake. We must be sober and vigilant, fearless, fervent, faithful, and fruitful.
Let us pray and serve to that end.