Across Pacific & Asia

- One Year Later...

By Ron Hutchcraft

I've been on top of the World Trade Center many times. For thirty years of my life in the New York area, those towers dominated the horizon. Buildings that took years to construct were reduced to rubble on that fateful morning of September 11, 2001.

But so much more than buildings collapsed that awful day when airliners became missiles and America itself became the battlefield. Thousands of lives came crashing down that day, too. The airline passengers, the World Trade and Pentagon workers, the rescuers who died trying to rescue - so many, gone in one awful, violent moment. And the countless loved ones, in some cases not knowing what happened to those they love, in all cases agonizing over the horrific circumstances of their death ... and the lifelong scars on those heroic rescuers, recovery workers, and medical personnel who will always be haunted with the memories of what they have seen.

I remember vividly the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center - we thought that was unimaginable! The morning after I arrived at an airport in another city, only to be greeted by a TV crew with videocam and microphone in hand. They were seeking comments from people arriving on the first flight from Newark that day. When they asked me my reaction to the Trade Center bombing, I could think of only one word to describe how so many of us were feeling after that shock - "Vulnerable."

We watched everyday people like us, doing things we do - passengers on a jetliner, folks at their jobs - suddenly wiped out en masse. We've seen the lists of fatalities - including CEOs, Chief Operating Officers, high-profile lawyers and entertainment executives - and we realize that, like those who died on the Titanic, success and position mean nothing when death strikes suddenly. We've seen our children trying to understand horrors a child cannot understand - let alone us parents who are trying to explain those horrors.

We've all felt vulnerable. It's as if some of our sense of personal security and safety came crashing down with those majestic towers. The banner headline of our local newspaper screamed, "Forever changed" - they're probably right. One woman said, "I'm scared" ... one man said, "It feels like things are out of control."

And now, it is one year later. Much of our world has changed in the past year. But what about us? Are we different people? I've often said, "If you're going to experience the pain, you might as well get the point."

Immediately following 9/11, I know many of us went through some deep soul-searching and re-evaluating. We asked ourselves questions like, "What are the things that really matter and the things that really don't - and which ones have I been living for?" ... "What have I got that will really last - no matter what tragedy comes crashing into my life?" ... "Am I ready for eternity, no matter how suddenly my time comes?"

We have seen how suddenly our towers can come crashing down, how quickly what I've built and who I've loved can all be gone. And our hearts are hungry for something we can anchor to ... for something to sustain us when the bad news is more than we can bear ... for something that will make us really safe.

When our President addressed the nation on this generation's "day of infamy," he alluded to the one Source of comfort and hope in moments like these. He quoted from that treasured 23rd Psalm found in the best-selling book of all times, the Bible - "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me." (Psalm 23:4)

Life has many "vulnerable" moments - when you lose your job, when you lose someone you love, when your marriage or your parents' marriage collapses, when the medical report is unsettling. But that "valley of the shadow of death" - that is, by far, life's most vulnerable moment. Yet the Bible holds out to you and me a security that can keep you safe even in that valley - and no matter what else comes crashing down in your life.

That security is a Relationship, a Person - "You are with me, Lord." All our lives we have been hungry for one "unloseable" love. And there really only is one. It's the love of the One who made you ... the One who you will meet on the other side of your last heartbeat ... the One whose love caused Him to literally lay down His life for you.

The safety our heart longs for is found in the arms of Jesus Christ. In God's own words, "Nothing will ever separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:39) But in your vulnerable moments, your moments that are more than you can handle alone - those moments when you've gone seeking God - maybe you've realized that there is something that is separating you from Him. The Bible confirms that all the wrong things we've ever done have actually "separated you from your God." (Isaiah 59:2) This "sin" - our hijacking of a life that God was supposed to run - cuts us off from the very God whose love is our only safe place.

But that's why Jesus came. "God sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins ... He sent His one and only Son that we might live through Him." (1 John 4:9, 10) Now all Jesus is waiting for is for you to grab His outreached hand like a person trapped in the wreckage would grab the hand of a rescuer. You can do that right where you are, this very moment. Just tell Him, "Jesus, I've lived enough days without You ... I'm sorry for running a life that You were supposed to run ... I want to belong to You ...  I want to be changed forever."

Jesus liked to use the word "everlasting" to describe the kind of life He wants to give you. We have been reminded so powerfully that nothing earth has is everlasting. That's the time your heart should be turning to the only One who is - so you can know that you have a love you can never lose ... a security that can never be shaken ... and that you're ready for eternity, whenever it comes. No religion can even offer that kind of security or everlasting life, it is only found with a relationship with Jesus Christ.

You're vulnerable no more when you run to the safest place in all the world - "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are safe." (Proverbs 18:10)

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