Friday, September 11, 2009
Today's Date: September 11, 2009
Momentous events lodge in our brain and forever after (at least while in this world) we can look back and vividly remember where we were, what we were doing, what we thought when we first heard the news.
I'm certain it is that way with most of you in regards to September 11, 2001. We were living in California at the time and I was in Minnesota visiting our daughter. We were driving from her home to my mother's home in Iowa and were enjoying the bright morning sun of a beautiful autumn day. We were oblivious to what had happened in New York until my husband called on his cell and asked if we had been listening to NPR. He added this imperative, "Turn on the radio!"
We were two hours into a five hour drive and for the next three hours we sat stunned listening to the news. At a truck stop we caught glimpses of the news on the TV above the cash register. When we arrived at my mother's home we spent the evening watching the news. It wasn't much of a visit...it seemed all we could do was hover over the TV, trying to fathom what all of this meant.
One of my brothers had been near the World Trade Center the day previous to the attack. A brother-in-law was stranded in Canada. He and friends rented a car to drive to the US where they were able to catch a flight home. And here I was, stranded 1800 miles from home.
A day later we returned to Minnesota. I was to fly home on Friday. Planes were grounded and I wondered if I would need to rent a car, catch a ride, or possibly buy a clunker to get me back to California. All kinds of scenarios went through my mind. But by Thursday we learned that my Friday flight out of the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport was scheduled to fly on time.
At the airport, we pulled up to the curb, got out of the car, and pulled my suitcase from her car. My daughter and I hugged. The emotion of the week erupted and we clung long, both of us sobbing hard, before I turned and headed into the airport. I noticed a security guard observing us. He must have watched that scene over and over as others parted with their loved ones.
It was solemn that day. Silent. There was no noise. People were on alert, eyeballing fellow passengers, searching their intent, as we waited for our flight. Everybody was wondering.....
Again utter silence as we boarded and found our seats. Nobody spoke. Not a sound or cough or sneeze. Just silence. For a long time after takeoff. Everyone in his own thoughts, wondering....
Some time into the flight we must have opened a conversation for the younger man on my right mentioned that he was from New Zealand and worked for monster.com. He had been staying at a motel near the Towers and was evacuated, being forced to leave behind everything, including his computer, clothing, and passport. At the New Zealand consulate he was able to get a temporary passport for his return flight home. He had a wife and two small sons at home. He was on the second flight of his journey and would catch yet another before leaving the States.
The fellow on my left was older. He and his wife were on their way to California where he planned to attend graduate school at a seminary. His wife was seated up front because she had been able to use miles to get first class seating. He commented that while waiting for our flight, he had remembered he still had a box cutter in his coat pocket...he had used it while opening a new computer and packing it for the flight. The screening had not discovered it. He mentioned it to his wife in the waiting room and wondered if he should report it. They thought this might delay their flight and so it was still in his vest pocket. Behind a small copy of the New Testament.
We did not exchange names. I wish we had.
It's been eight years since that day. But every time I see reference to the horrible events of that day I am reminded of the evil intent of man's heart. All of mankind has been hard at work killing off mankind down through the centuries. If history was not your forte in high school, you can surely look at it now and read how man has constantly been killing himself, so to speak. Intrigue after intrigue. Battle after battle. War after war. Newer weapons beating outdated weapons. Death. Death. Death. With Cain being the first to instigate. And with us following forever in his footsteps.
We like to think that in the heart of man there is some good, some kindness, some redemptive feature that will save mankind from his own destruction. And we try to live that, don't we? Don't we try to be good, to be kind, to love one another? We keep trying! And we keep failing! We've been failing ever since Adam. Individually and collectively.
In the end, we have to acknowledge that all of mankind is fallen. All of mankind is tainted with the sin of Adam. All of us! (Romans 3:23). There are none of us who are truly good. Each one of us, in our own flesh, carries Adam's sin. (Romans 3:10).
It is more eloquently stated in Psalm 53:1-3
The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God,"
They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice;
There is no one who does good.
God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there is anyone who understands,
Who seeks after God.
Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, not even one.
Even the Apostle Paul, that great man of God, despaired over his own sin, acknowledging that in his own flesh, he could not overcome sin. (Romans 7).
If the Apostle Paul wrestled with sin, what about us? What, then, is our remedy?
The answer comes from Paul in his letter to the believers residing in Ephesus...
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,
that we would be holy and blameless before Him. Ephesians 1:3-4
Holy and Blameless! Yes, but not in our own flesh or our own works. When we stand before God we will stand before Him clothed in Christ's righteousness, not our own. For our own righteousness, our own "good" deeds, are as filthy garments before God.(Isaiah 64:6)
Let us read what Paul says next...
...In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Ephesians 1:4-8
The process of the salvation can be (somewhat) summed up in the word, "imputation". Adam's sin was imputed (put into, put onto) to us. Our sin (sins) were imputed (put into, put onto) to Christ at the cross. And in exchange, that grand and gracious exchange, Christ's righteousness was imputed (put into, put onto) to us! I have righteousness! Christ's righteousness! Not my own, for my own good deeds are as filthy garments, muddy, filthy, unclean. But in Christ I am Clean and I stand before the throne of God as Clean. In Christ!
There has been no other remedy down through the ages. We live by faith. Faith that Jesus is who He said He is, that He has done what He has said He would do, and that He will do what He said He will do. In terms of eternity it is a "done deal". In terms of time, we live out our faith day by day, moment by moment, trusting that God's work is sure and certain.
As Peter said, "Where else can we go?" John 6:67-68.