So here we are, 20 years later, remembering the horrific act of terrorism that shook our nation and left us all in a state of shock as we grieved those who were lost, as well as the brave emergency responders who gave their lives trying to save them. This is adapted from my original post a few years ago, and although a lot has changed since then, some things will never change. Among them, the power of our unchanging God, the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Light in our hearts, and the truth of His Holy Word. Mine is only one story. What’s yours? What if we all lit someone else’s candle?
“Five years from the date of the attack that changed our world, we’ve come back to remember the valor of those we lost–those who innocently went to work that day and the brave souls who went in after them. We have also come to be ever mindful of the courage of those who grieve for them, and the light that still lives in their hearts” –New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani at the World Trade Center site in 2006
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” – John 8:12
September 11, 2001. One of the darkest days in American history. According to Wikipedia, 2,996 people were killed immediately, including those on the four planes, the World Trade Center and surrounding area, and the Pentagon. Many more have since died, due to their injuries, or cancer from inhaling the toxic dust. Of course, this number varies, depending on what source you read it from, and when it was written. One thing is for certain: it was a terrible, dark day for all of us, especially those who lost loved ones that day. We must never forget, but continue to reach out to one another, to pray for the families who lost their loved ones, and, to hold the light of hope in our hearts as we remember those we lost that day. And lest we forget, here is just my little contribution, a little of where I was when “the world stopped turning” on that terrible “September day”…
I was less that 2 months from turning 36. My children were 15, 13, and 9. I was working at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Clayton, NC, at what we around here call the Hwy 40/42 area (where NC Hwy 42 intersects with I-40, which goes into Raleigh, NC). I was just about to turn onto I-40, going to work, when I heard something on the radio about a “plane crash”. Of course, mostly concentrating on my driving, at that point, I had no idea of the seriousness of what I was hearing. At work, around the store, the atmosphere was somber. There was just a strange quietness. As my customers all kept talking about it throughout the day, it was only then that I began to realize just how serious it was. I went home and for the next couple of days, all I could do was sit in front of the TV, my eyes glued to the screen, and my mouth open, in a state of shock. As the days and weeks passed, I remember I was literally scared. I was scared to death, especially in the first few days after the attacks, as I think no doubt, everyone was. Were they going to come here and attack us next? Would there be more attacks?
As the years passed, my kids grew up and my daughters now have kids of their own, my youngest is now working on her 2nd masters, and teaching Intro to Psych at ECU. Things changed, people have moved on, I’ve gone through a couple of divorces, lost my husband and high school sweetheart, Keith, to Covid, and survived it myself as well as breast cancer by God’s grace. Our family has lost a few more members over the years, and there have been a few new additions as well. I have since completed an Associate’s Degree in Office Systems Technology, which has provided me skills that have helped me tremendously with my writing. I’ve published 3 books, (though I discontinued the first 2), and started my own imprint. The new 35th Anniversary Revised Edition of my latest, CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door (Resuscitating the Christian Heart…Yes, Your Ship is Coming In!) is available on Amazon in print and Kindle, and in eBook in these online stores. More books are coming as the good Lord leads me.
Yet, every year at this time, I cannot help but think of the sadness this day always brings, especially to those who lost family members or friends in this horrible, cowardly attack on the American people. After all, they were not lost to just their families or friends; they were lost to all of us. Over 3,000 families are still grieving those they loved who were killed that day. All those people spent that last evening of September 10, 2001, with their families and loved ones, never knowing it was their last night with them. They got up and went to work that morning with no idea of what was coming. They sent their children off to school that next morning and kissed them goodbye for the last time. Those on the planes had to call or text their loved ones, in tears as they faced the shock of explaining to them that they knew they were about to lose their lives. I could go on, but there is no room here…
I’m sure what most of us may have been through pales drastically in comparison to what the victims of the events of 9/11 experienced that day. The scars will be on the hearts of their surviving family members for the rest of their lives. Even though for us, life went on, for them, every year, this day is a dark reminder when all the painful memories come flooding back. Yet all of us have “a story”. You may not think it’s much to offer, but a story left unshared will not help anyone. It’s not what we’ve been through, or who’s been through the worst tragedy, or even who may be hurting the worst. It’s the power of healing that comes from sharing the Light of Christ’s love with others who are hurting. It’s the knowing that no matter what any of us have suffered, His love and healing, restoring power is greater and stronger than any of it. It’s the candle of hope that lights up from one heart to the next as we each share what He has done for us and help them to understand the ways that same healing power can help them.
So wherever you are, if you can tell your story, or light a candle, write a book, or even just write your testimony in a tract or blog post, or just say a prayer for the families and friends of each one of the people who were lost that day, then the light of hope will start to flicker, then burn brightly, into an eternal flame of hope. It is the hope that unites the American people. Because when you mess with any of our people, you are messing with all of us. Jesus told us that in the last days, these tribulations would come…
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:3-14
…But we must remain strong, encourage one another, pray for one another, and share our story, however little or great it might be, and we must begin to link hands all across this once great nation, and form a chain of prayer, and let the light of hope flicker, becoming the eternal flame of that hope that unites us all, and stand strong. It is that hope that will help us “endure to the end”, and perhaps relight the candle of hope, for those who have lost it. I guess you could say it’s kind of like, if each of us shares a little of our story, maybe it’s kind of like all of us lighting a “candle” in memory of those who were lost that day, as well as those who have died since from their injuries or sickness caused by the toxic dust and fumes from the disaster, etc. Perhaps, even if but a small flicker of hope arises from one of us sharing our story, it becomes the eternal flame of hope that will light someone else’s way. To me, it is like saying, I am only one person, but I am here, and I care, because to me, each precious life that was lost that day was an American citizen, a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, and the list goes on.
A lot has happened in the 20 years since that dark day. Covid has taken many of those we loved, including my husband. Only 3 months later, strokes took my precious mother. Cancer and other things have taken many others. Still, so many who have been left behind are left feeling the pangs of grief, depression, and hopelessness, and too often, we have left them to wonder if anyone cares, because too many times, we let the enemy trick us into feeling we are too far gone or traumatized to help anyone else. Jesus knew we would have tribulations in this time, and He had this to say…
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
There is a kind of healing we ourselves can experience in allowing God to use our own pain to help others, and Jesus knew this. If we look at the bigger picture, as we trust in Him and wait on Him to renew our strength as Isaiah 40:31 reminds us, we will find ourselves “mounting up with wings as eagles”, and soaring high above the storms, just as they do. Only then will we find ourselves rising above the storms our Lord said we would endure in these days before His return and discovering the peace He promised us that is out of this world (See John 14:27 and Philippians 4:6-7). Once we do, if His love is in us, we won’t want to keep it to ourselves, but we will take that Light that is in our hearts and light someone else’s candle with it. Just think of what a better world we could make it if each of us did that. After all, it’s been said that a candle loses nothing of its light by lighting another candle.
I know this is more of a Christmas seasonal song, but I still felt the message was perfect for what I am trying to say here. May we never forget the victims of that terrible day, the children who had to grow up without parents and all of those who lost someone they loved that day. May we each light a candle of Christ’s love and reach out to those who are hurting, say a prayer for those whose families were forever broken that day, and all we have lost since. Whether it’s through this senseless attack on our nation, or Covid, Cancer, or something else that has caused the loss of someone you love, let us remember that we have all lost someone. We have all suffered in these times we are going through, and our Lord, Jesus said it would be this way. But if we remember, our God has not surrendered His authority, nor fallen off His throne, He is still in control, and according to the last page of my Bible, He wins, then we know that if we are on His side, we are on the winning side!
Where were you that September day? What will you do to help light someone else’s candle of hope today? After all, if we have the Light of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in us, then it is not our own light we are sharing with them, but a part of His Light. And that Light is sufficient to cover us all. It is ours for the asking, and the peace that comes with it is out of this world. He said so Himself.