Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Creator of Darkness and Light

Like everyone else in America, it was a day like any other for me. I was working at MD Anderson and still making the hour and a half commute from my home in Dayton. I got to work just before 8:00am CST, and went directly to the break room to fill my water cup and to put my lunch the refrigerator. I glanced up at the television in the corner, and saw a smoking building but had no idea where it was or the implications as of yet. Another employee told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and to be perfectly honest I wasn't too concerned. I assumed it was a fluke and that someone flying a small plane had lost control in a terrible accident.

It became clear in the following hours that it was no mistake, no fluke. It was a deliberate, planned attack on America. It was intended to strike fear in our hearts and to create panic. When I heard that the Pentagon had been hit, it suddenly became very personal to me. My brother Patrick works at a law firm in Washington, DC that is very close to the Capitol, and my anxiety ratcheted up when I couldn't reach him by phone. It seems a little silly now, but at the time we had no idea how many attacks had been planned. I had family in Denver, DC, Louisiana and Texas, and in my panic I was able to rationalize why these places might be targeted next. The mint in Denver. DC was an obvious target and the Pentagon had already been hit. The Gulf Coast was full of refineries and ports. In the pandemonium that followed, speculation abounded and all I could think of was getting to my family. My relief was palpable when we finally heard from Patrick and that he was safe, as was the rest of my family.

But safe became a relative term after 9/11.

I called my mom and she left work to go get Nathan who was six months old, and at the home of our babysitter Jo. I wanted desperately to hold him and feel his comforting weight in my arms, but knew that I could not leave work and that he would be safe with Mama.

Safe. We thought we were safe from all threats, foreign and domestic. We were complacent and self-satisfied with our own strength and reputation. We were wrong.

It seemed to me that our life as a nation began anew after 9/11. So many sentences began with "After 9/11" or "In the post 9/11 world", and we all felt it. People lined up to give blood, cars were adorned with American flags and patriotic bumper stickers, and we all rose up in righteous indignation at the atrocity perpetrated on our native soil. Airports now had a military presence and a whole new set of rules emerged for how we would travel. Many stashed bags full of necessities like batteries, water, tennis shoes and a gas mask in their offices, backseats and underneath the stairs in case it was needed on short notice. The ranks of our military swelled with new recruits and our churches filled to overflowing with people looking for answers and comfort. This was our new reality. This was our life.

It's still hard for me to believe that it has been ten years since that beautiful, clear September morning when four airplanes hijacked by misguided zealots changed our lives forever. But the one thing that still brings me comfort, just as it did all those years ago is that God is sovereign. Our ways are not His ways, and He creates calamity and makes peace. Every single thing that happens to every soul on this planet is orchestrated by the One who created us all. Do we understand why? Not always. Sometimes it's not until years later that we can look back and see the why, and other times we are never permitted to understand. But whether or not we understand is not as important as our faith in the One who does. We take comfort in that and are able to move forward and continue to live our lives in the knowledge that He is not just watching, but actively involved in our lives.

I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

Ten years later I still mourn the lives and innocence lost.  I grieve for the families that lost loved ones in those towers, in the Pentagon and in that field in Pennsylvania.  But I have hope for the future, and a faith that can never be shaken by the poisonous darts thrown by Satan because every dart has been allowed by the One who holds me in His hand.