Hope you’re having a joy-filled week…even tho’ it’s tougher this time. On Sunday, September 11, everyone will be remembering a Tuesday, September 11.
I remember. We used to have an office in Jackson Square before we had Ogden. I was meeting with someone who was having a time of sadness. This person was living in a crumbling marriage and was choosing to leave it and move away. I was trying to change this person’s mind. Tina called and said, “Something really sad is happening in New York. You better check it out on a TV.” I remember thinking, “I can’t right now. Something really sad is happening in a life right now and I’m trying to stop it.”
Then I went over to the Young Life office. While the towers fell down, so did our tears.
Then the images. The photos of collegues, holding hands and jumping. The phone messages left on answering machines. “If I don’t see you again, just know I love you, babe. I have to go…”
Maybe all of us could say (and some so much more than others) that our lives and hearts would never be the same as before. I heard an interview yesterday with one family who lost a dad and a grand dad that day. They called all their former life up to the eleventh of September, 2001, “the before”.
One of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen was by Ken Burns, who made documentaries about the Civil War, baseball, and Lewis and Clark that last for hours. This one was on the Friday following 9/11. It was about thirty seconds long. It showed the towers, the explosions, the rolling dust clouds, the streets, just like we had seen them endless times that week. But the film and scenes were all run backwards. The film ran in reverse. The clouds rolled back, the towers jumped up, the planes flew backwards and away. It ended after half a minute with the bustling, almost cheerful streets of New York, and a crisp, blue, early fall sky above.
There really was “the before”.
In our world, full of hate and hurt, there is a longing for “the before”. The saddest faces I’ve ever seen were in a war refugee camp. They had been driven from homes that they, and their parents, and grandparents were born in. “The before” for them was only six weeks in the past. But the war that came to them had already taken 250,000 lives. And the hate that caused it was over a thousand years old.
Some have never known “the before” except as in a faint dream in the heart. Today, tomorrow, Sunday, September 11, and every day in our world, five times as many people as died when the towers fell, will die from not having enough to eat. Most of them will not yet have reached their twelve birthday. In one country in Africa, 28% of all will die before they are five.
If we were really hoping to rewind to “the before” all the hurt, hate, sorrow and pain, we’d have to reverse the film of the human drama to the very first days of our world, when two walked with God in the cool of the day and He met all their needs and filled all their longings. The day they chose to not, the time after “the before” began. All the hurt and hate is because humans chose to walk, not with Him, but from Him.
That’s why the most important thing we can do for the healing of the hurts and hearts in our world is to tell folks everywhere about the love of Him Who came to bring us back, Who came to make all things new!
There is coming a day when He will come again for all who know and love Him! He says that on that day, “I make all things new! (Rev 21.5) Every day, experts say, 70,000 people trust in Jesus for the very first time. And every time they do, “old things have passed away; all things become new!”
In The Return of the King”, when Samwise discovered that Gandalf wasn’t dead, Tolkien wrote that …
…Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth… between bewilderment and great joy…At last he gasped: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?” “A great shadow has departed," said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music…as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known…
In Pontcharra, an Alpine village in France, Paul and Karen Davis have gone to share the love of Jesus with folks who have never heard the message before. On Sept. 25 they will have their first worship service of Jesus! A few months ago, a new friend there, Mylene, asked Jesus to come into her heart.
For her, all things have become new.
That’s better than ”the before”!