This is the time when we, as Americans, remember the tragic day that struck our soil on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
We were living in Little Rock, Arkansas at the time and I was serving as a manager at FamilyLife, a Christian ministry dedicated to developing spiritually healthy families. Five minutes into my daily commute to work, a broadcaster almost casually announced a plane hit a building in New York. This did not seem that unusual because small planes had, unfortunately, flown off course and hit structures in the past – tragic but not unprecedented.
Several minutes later I arrived at my destination and, as I was walking in, someone told me a second plane had struck the World Trade Center in New York City. This was clearly more than an accident. Immediately I went in and joined others around a television set watching the live video. As we viewed those horrifying images amidst gasps and crying, I immediately began to think of Andrea and our two daughters. I knew that I needed to be with them. After receiving permission, I raced home.
Have you ever listened as the names of those who died were being read aloud? As I have listened to name after name being read of those who tragically died from the collapsed towers, the attack on the Pentagon and the unsuccessful mission of the hijackers to take the fourth plane into either the U.S. Capitol or The White House, I could not help but think back to a story many of us had heard soon after about Todd Beamer.
Todd Beamer was a 32 year-old passenger aboard United Flight 93. He, along with several other passengers, decided to storm the cockpit and neutralize the hijackers. “Let’s roll!” from Todd Beamer became a catchphrase and represented the courage and heroism of the passengers on board that flight. Their brave actions prevented the plane from killing potentially thousands of others by somehow, presumably, forcing the plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. All 44 on board died.
The reason Todd stood out to me, after all these years, is we were the same age, both followers of Jesus Christ, both had two children and both our wives were pregnant. I still wonder today if I would have had the same courage as Todd, and others, during that rare opportunity. He didn’t know that his words would be an inspiration to millions of people but he, in the heat of the moment, had the character to do what was right.
Psalm 46 says, in part, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
Even after many years removed from 9/11, may we recommit ourselves to God to always place our trust in Him. Even in a tragic and fearful situation, we know that God is faithful and true. Will you commit yourself in a new way to trust God no matter the situation? “Let’s roll!”