by Karen A. Fliedner, OCF Assoc. Ed
Ten years later–replacing the smoldering rubble and debris of where the Twin Towers once stood, waterfalls now tumble down into sunken granite pools. Framing the pools, etched on bronze panels, are the names of all victims who died at the hands of Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001.
In Shanksville, Pennsylvania–less than fifty miles away from OCF’s eastern conference center of White Sulphur Springs–a simple open field is the hallowed ground marking Flight 93’s deadly plunge into earth. The planned three-stage memorial is still under construction.
A two-acre park in Washington, DC now stands at the precise spot where Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Scattered throughout the grounds are 184 cantilevered benches above small reflecting pools–one for each person who perished there on that terrible day in America’s history.
A day where both collectively as a nation and as individuals, we were forced from the busyness of daily lives to think about the unthinkable-evil, death, and what comes, if anything, after death.
And four attacks, nearly 3000 victims, and a decade later, with commemorative events scheduled across America from sea to shining sea, the question raging on in retrospect is: Are we any safer?
But on the flip side, a recent op-ed piece in a Western newspaper challenged, “Is NYC going too far in crossing the line between security and privacy?” The column’s conclusion–all while acknowledging we weren’t in New York and don’t really know what New Yorkers felt ten years ago–was, “there comes a point where the sacrifice of civil liberties is too great a price for security.”
So much for the persuasiveness of the “we are all New Yorkers” sentiment so fondly championed right now, largely by non-New Yorkers.
Rewinding back in the portals of history to another time of horrible images, where only smoldering rubble and debris remain of a once magnificent city and its buildings–including the architectural wonder of Herod’s Temple.
But this city was entirely destroyed. Over one million people were slaughtered and nearly another 100,000 citizens dragged away to slavery in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Decades earlier, Jesus Christ pointed to Herod’s Temple towering over the skyline of bustling Jerusalem and asked his disciples, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!” (Matthew 24:2, NLT).
His dumbstruck disciples later approached Him to ask, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the [age]?” (Matthew 24:3, NLT).
The portrait Jesus painted of imminent and future events was terrifying–wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, false prophets, and increase of wickedness. And so globally horrific that “there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began…. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive” (Matthew 24:21-22, NLT).
Mercilessly crucified on the cross of Calvary only days after His startling discourse, Jesus victoriously resurrected from the grave later three days later–forever conquering sin, death, and the grave.
To all who fully accept His gift of salvation, this King of all kings and Lord of all lords has forever removed the sting of death, promising, “Don’t be afraid! …. I died, but look-I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:17-18).
Jesus’ bottom line to His disciples that day as He unveiled both the horror and hope of the future was, “be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Matthew 24:44).
Are we any safer?
Whether in war, famine, earthquake, car wreck, old age–or the evitable other 9/11s–maybe the real question we ought to be asking ourselves is, am I ready?