|by C.J. Chase|
My story is so mundane for someone who lived so near to the events. I'd put son #1 on the bus to his new first grade class, dialed up AOL to download my email, and then expected to spend a quiet morning writing. No radio. No television. No Internet. So when my mom called mid-morning to see if I'd heard from my husband, I wracked my brain, trying to figure out why in the world he should have called me on a Tuesday morning.
My husband was fine, thankfully. He worked at the Washington Navy Yard, just a couple miles due east of the Pentagon on the other side of the Potomac River -- close enough to hear the explosion of the impact.
The afternoon was chaotic as government offices and business closed and evacuated the city. Cell phone communications failed. Friends and relatives from around the country tried to reach me on the house phone only to find they couldn't get through. When I finally reach my husband -- via his landline and not his cell phone -- he was stuck in DC. On his base, they had closed the gates, locked everyone in/out, and gone to war.
In the hours that followed, we anxiously awaited word about friends and relatives who worked in the Pentagon. For days, people wore the dazed expressions of shellshock. Even years later, clear-sky autumn weather would trigger memories of that day.
On an intellectual level, we knew we lived in a target-rich location. During the Cold War, Washingtonians feared a Soviet nuke. Radical leftists had attacked the Pentagon in 1972. In 1993, a Muslim jihadi had gone on a shooting rampage at a traffic light near the CIA, only minutes after my husband had driven through the intersection.
But 9/11 was different. Bigger. Scarier.
After 9/11, anti-aircraft missiles took up residence near bridges, on buildings, and around the Pentagon. Instead of traffic conditions, electronic message signs displayed hotline numbers to report suspicious activity. Checkpoints appeared at major events on the Mall and at the Smithsonian museums we had so freely waltzed in and out of in a more innocent age.
Washington changed that day. The attack on the Pentagon was quickly followed by anthrax poisonings and sniper shootings. By the fall of 2002, the tension had become palpable. Everywhere we went, we were reminded that our country was at war, that death could come at any moment. Even now ten years later, re-living those days brings back the old fears.
Some claim there are 365 verses in the Bible where God admonishes us not to be afraid--one for every day of the year. God gave us emotions, including fear. But He also instructs us not to allow our lives to be ruled by fear.
Fear not, Moses said to the people when they stood between the Red Sea and Pharaoh's army.
Be strong and courageous, God told the Israelites when they stood on the threshold of the Promised Land.
Don't be afraid, the angel said to Gideon.
|The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci|
Sometimes when anxiety for the future threatens to overwhelm me, I think back to those first century Christians. How easily they could have allowed fear to paralyze them -- a few people against the mightiest empire the world had ever seen, refusing to say the emperor was God despite threats of torture and death. "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer," Jesus instructed John to write during the dark days of Domitian's reign. "Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown." (Rev 2: 10)
Like the patriarchs, the prophets, and the early church, we live in a fallen world, a world ruled by our adversary who prowls around "like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (I Peter 5:8) And contrary to all the admonitions to "fear not," God warns us to fear him, the one with the power to destroy not just the body, but the soul (Matthew 10:28).
Every crisis presents us with an opportunity to show the love and faithfulness of God. This is the victory that overcomes the world, John told the early followers, even our faith that Jesus is the Son of God (I John 5:5). And overcome they did. Their faith turned that empire, and eventually the world, upside down.
Today is an emotional day, full of tragedy and tears. But don't forget the triumph yet to come. We worship an all-powerful God, who declares these troubles, this entire world even, is only temporary. "Then I saw 'a new heaven and a new earth,' for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,...He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21: 1, 4)
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)
Do you remember what you were doing when you heard about the 9/11 attacks? Do you have any sad or poignant memories of 9/11?
After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Redeeming the Rogue is an August, 2011 release. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at cjchasebooks.com