It was, in many ways, a typical start to a working Tuesday. The sky was blue, it was a beautiful late summer morning and everything appeared to be business as usual. On this busy, bustling day in a city so large its citizens often think of it as the center of the universe, the day began as so many others before it. The early morning rituals of newspapers and coffees, breakfasts on the run and finding seats on one of the world’s busiest commuter transit systems would, by day’s end, witness events that would leave an impact that still reverberates to this day.
Two days earlier, however, an incident as apparently trivial as an ‘accidental’ moment of thoughtlessness triggered another event which few would ever see, let alone appreciate. You see, a lady (we’ll call her Abby) was coming down her basement stairs and slipped on a hairbrush someone in her household had inadvertently left there. The resultant fall was so hard that she fractured her ankle. The trip back from the hospital emergency was on crutches, wearing a cast. She was told to keep off her feet for several days. The angry frustration toward the unknown family culprit only grew as she had to miss her important business appointment at 9:30 a.m. on the 11th.
That same day, someone else who normally was never late for work, stopped off for a coffee but headed back home in apparent need of something forgotten. She never returned to the same work place again.
Not long after this, a third lady was ordered off the train she was taking to work, only to emerge outdoors to watch the horrific events that were unfolding in the skyline above.
That morning, a photocopy technician awoke knowing that his workload was going to be a light one that day. He decided to take a sick day. Just as he was calling his boss, he was told to immediately turn on the TV and watch what was happening to the building where he was scheduled to work.
Somewhere, over the skies to the north in Canada, American air traffic was diverted to its airports for emergency landings. A scared mother and wife was told that her pilot husband would not be able to return to her until it was safe to do so. North America was gripped in shock and fear. The days of security of homeland protection from air attack had now come to an end.
2,977 victims’ lives were claimed that fateful day, 11 years ago, but one whose story has not completely been told. It has been estimated that up to 19,000 people were in the Twin Towers that morning on September 11th, 2001 and that, at any given time, 100,000 could have been working at the World Trade Center. What the world saw that eventful day cannot be diminished as to its horror, fear and sadness. Many suffered loss of life while others still grieve the victims they loved. There, but for the Grace of God, would we have gone, the way of all flesh…and how tragic that mankind still dies in brutal, horrific, wasteful and unnecessary circumstances. But, let mankind take heed of this: That although this attack was not diverted, our God saw fit to have allowed for the rescue and evacuation of 1,000s upon 1,000s from this tragedy! May the many survivors praise Him for this!
…and, especially for us, let the unknown story of those mentioned above still elicit a spark of encouragement for them who are His, called according to His purpose. For, you see, these are the first-hand accounts of our sisters and brothers in Christ who had no way of knowing beforehand the events that were to take place, and were oblivious to the shadow of the unforeseen Hand of Providence in their lives. Many are the plans in the minds of men, but it’s God who will direct as He sees fit. What to most who have observed this event in history would consider barely a footnote, we see as the invisible hand behind the scenes protecting and guiding us in His love. He is still at work in our lives, brethren and sisters, watching over us even when we’re not aware. Let this provoke our hearts to witness evermore, so to the fact that our God is an Awesome God, Who is able to perform more than we ask or think of Him.
Let this be an opportunity to be renewed in thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for His steadfast love, no matter the circumstances, and put in perspective what we consider to be of such importance in our fellowship. Let us look for Him in each day’s journey and rejoice in another day of life. He hasn’t lost sight of us and it is our solemn duty to remind each other that God is active and wants to be part of our lives. He tells us that He will be found of those who seek for Him with all their hearts. Let us give thanks for all He has given and continues to give.
Much has happened since that day, 11 years ago: the collapse of governments, the instability of western economies, the capture and execution of 9/11’s master-mind, the escalation of anti-Israeli sentiments. We are on the verge of Christ’s return. Let us further be impressed with the need to keep our garments clean, to witness to this ever-dying world of our God, who has done marvelous things for us, and to encourage our brethren and sisters that our King will come!
Post Script: The first time this talk was given, a visiting seminar student in the audience related afterwards, that he had been living in New York during the time of the destruction of the WTC. He had planned a visit to the towers the day of the bombing, but was told by his employer that he couldn’t get the time off until the week after. Originally from Mexico, he moved to Toronto several years after this incident, came to our “Learn to Read the Bible” seminars and within a few months of this exhortation was baptized.
Peter Wisniowski (Church Street Ecclesia, Toronto, ON)