The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lordfor the display of his splendor.
I remember.... the two words that are present in our hearts today on yet another anniversary of September 11. Nearly every facebook status I've seen this morning begins this way, or even without words by the sharing of thousands of memorials and photos of the event we all wish had never happened. It did happen though, and in the years since so much has transpired in our country and in our lives.
I'm not going to bore you with a personal account of where I was and how I felt. Instead I'm going to share my thoughts this morning. At our church each year we have sort of a challenge. A word is chosen that we kind of make the theme for the year. Last year, that word was Joy. (I'm still a little stuck on it as you might be able to tell.) This year the word was Memories. Not memories as in memories of child hood or family, birthdays etc. When someone says Memories, we are supposed to say "I Remember" and think of all that God has done for us and brought us through.
11 years ago when the towers fell I was a senior in high school. I wasn't a mother, a wife, a teachers aide, a Sunday school teacher, or any of the other hats I wear today. I had no idea where I was going or what I would be, in truth most days I still don't.
I remember the pain of that day, and wondering like most, what was to come. As a country we mourned for those who were lost, but if you are like me, that mourning was more about the loss of the control and security we felt than about the individual lives lost. How can you truly mourn for people that you have never met. We all felt pain, but here in WV most of us weren't personally close enough to the tragedy to really feel the loss. My feelings haven't changed much in 11 years. It's still hard to personally envision all that happened on that day. I will say that in the past year I've gained a better grasp because personally, I've seen the brotherhood of Men and Women who are willing to lift each other up, stand in the gap, and when needed die for others.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
In 2001, I knew a few firemen...mostly old guys who had been running calls for years. They were people I saw in the community, usually only recognized as a volunteer by the black boxes at their side ( boxes that I only recognized because my Dad is a radio guy who works on stuff like that.) Sometimes, driving by a wreck I would see a face or two I knew. That was the extent of it, I couldn't identify with the immensity of the fact that 343 firefighters gave their lives in the line of duty on Sept 11. To be honest, I didn't even know the exact number.
In 2011, ten years after the tragedy I finally started to "get it." On Sept. 11, 2011 Andy met my kids for the first time, not as my boyfriend (that came a few days later), but just as a friend saying Hi at a festival. He drove past us in a fire engine, smiling and waving at the Flatwoods Day's parade. I didn't realize it, but God was starting something amazing for us. In the year since, I've learned more and seen more than I ever imagined I would about the fire service. I've learned the number lost (you can't be around firemen long without hearing the number 343). I've felt the anxious grip on my heart, when my husband runs out the door not knowing what he'll find when he gets to a scene. I've also seen first hand how this truly is a brotherhood. How guys who have never met and who live on opposite sides of the country can bump it each other in a gas station, online, or on vacation and instantly be able to talk for hours like best friends. No where, not even in churches, have I ever seen that kind of instant respect and encouragement for each other. I don't know how it was before 9-11 but I can help but to think that some of that respect comes from the sacrifice of 343 people who were willing to set the example that all emergency responders follow today. I'm not just saying all this because I married a fireman (granted Andy had no clue he would be called to the fire serve in 2001). Perhaps it took this experience for me to see it though, Firefighters, EMS, and Law Enforcement. It is a ministry in itself and a calling that God certainly creates some amazing people for. God has amazing plans for all of us, that is worth remembering.
God has promised us that beauty can come from the ashes. From 2001 on there have been so many moments of mourning and despair that aren't even related to the tragedy. We've all experienced personal trials....and many of us have been brought out of them. In my life from the ashes of a painful marriage, came the Joy of two beautiful children, a Greater walk with God, and now...a great husband.. Every time I've been held captive and wounded in my life I have been set free by a Loving God who cares more for me than I can even imagine. It's good to remember the pain of the past, but only so far as to see where you've come from it God has too many blessings in store for those who seek him...why should we be discouraged?
Lastly, I want to share the first news I heard this morning. September 11, 2012. One of my closest friends called me to share the news that her much anticipated newborn daughter had arrived! At 5:31 am Lexi Jolene came into the world at 9 lb 4 oz, and 20 in long. What an amazing morning! What Joy and celebration!
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Today I challenge you to remember.We will never forget the events of September 11, 2001 but also do not forget the Memories since and how far God has brought you. Remember the ones who died for others on that day they deserve our respect, but do not forget the One that died for you for and for the world. Do not forget the children who are blessings from the Lord, do not forget the trials he has brought you through, and do not forget the good things he has in store for those who accept his great mercy and love. Do not forget His promises. .James 1:17
"And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer."
What has He done for you? What do you remember?