11 September 2011

10 Years

There’s really not much to be said about September 11th that hasn’t been said before. I was almost 16 years old when our nation was attacked; it is the day that defined my generation. It was the day that redefined our world.

Like everyone I remember where I was 10 years ago. I was sitting next to Della in Mr. Hoag’s 10th-grade geometry class in a portable at Spruce Creek. I remember the announcement made over the P.A. system that a plane had struck the World Trade Center, inviting teachers to turn on the news. I remember the confusion, wondering why they were telling us about an accident like that. And then the moment, the gut-wrenching moment, when the second tower was struck and the reality of the situation washed over each of us. I remember walking through the rest of the day like a zombie, wanting to cry but not yet able to grieve. The non-stop news coverage with conflicting reports, rumors of other threats, and confused reporters all melded into a constant background noise of tragedy. I had a French test that day, and I was really annoyed that Madame Dorinson still made us take it. It’s hard to think about the conditional verb tense when the world is crashing down around you. We gathered with friends in the cafeteria during lunch to pray, but I didn’t have any words. There were no words. I still don’t know that there are, and that was 10 years ago.

Ten years.

In the grand scheme of things, a decade isn’t much.

But then again, it really is much.

For me it was homework, IB tests, majorette practices, youth group events, senior prom, high school graduation, UF, saying goodbye to my grandfather, moving to Paris, summer internships, football games, FCA, four Gator National Championships, moving to Paris again, graduating from college, moving home, working at First Baptist, going to Haiti, and embarking on this J-man adventure. And those are just some of the big things. That doesn’t include all the real memories from the last 10 years, the everyday moments with friends and family. It glosses over the tears of sorrow and moments of blissful happiness. It doesn’t reflect the relationships forged or the walk with God grown. It skips over most of the things that are the truer measure of a person’s life.  When I start to consider just how full of life those last 10 years have been, it gives me a greater appreciation of how much 10 years really is.

Me and Della 10 years ago- Homecoming 2001
My 16th birthday party- October 2001
I had no idea what those 10 years would hold. I certainly never would have imagined that I would be living in Peru on the 10th anniversary of that tragedy. Hey, I wouldn’t even have believed you if you had told me I would attend UF! This wasn’t how I thought my life would unfold. Yet, while I may be surprised, but God never is. And how awesome to think that we serve a God who is not bound by time. He does not need to mark anniversaries. He WAS, and IS, and WILL BE. And I find that especially comforting when I think about where I might be when the 20th anniversary of September 11th rolls around. I don’t have a clue what my life will look like then, or even if I’ll be blessed with that many more years on this earth. But my God does. And while I don’t know life will go in the next year, much less 10, times like these are always good to look down the road and consider what you hope your life will look like, what you hope to have accomplished. Tragedies like September 11th can make us angry, fearful, and bitter. Or they can remind us of our blessings, help us appreciate the brevity of life and the urgency of the work, and help us put our priorities into perspective.

I consider it a blessing to work for an organization that does not allow danger, fear, or anger to stand in the way of sharing the Gospel. “Eight Southern Baptist workers have died in terror-related attacks since 9/11. They all knew the risks of their work, yet chose to serve anyway. God’s call is unconditional; they answered it unconditionally.” (Quote from this article.) Some have paid a high price, but the need is too great and the time is too short to sit on the sidelines.  Jesus said, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.” (Luke 10:2) I would hate to find myself at the end of another decade and look back to realize how much time I wasted or how selfishly I lived. I pray I will be a good steward of the time that He gives me. How about you? I know you remember where you were 10 years ago, but where will you be 10 years from now?

(P.S. Check out this website. The stories and prayer guide are excellent: Loving Muslims
And if you only have time to read one story, I just love this one! Especially the ending.) 

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