Dear Christian Sister,
It was September, which, in my small Southern California hometown, meant that the fire & football seasons were in full swing. I was in fifth grade at Sespe Elementary.
It was early. The valley was just beginning to glow in the first rays of sunrise. The air was cool, but warm enough to suggest high temperatures for the afternoon. We were all up, getting ready for the day. My parents were both teachers, so we had to be at school earlier than the other kids. My mom was a second grade teacher at my school and my dad taught at the high school.
I was in our tiny, pink tiled bathroom, when I heard the phone ring. It was unsettling. We never got calls in the morning. Was is the school district’s automatic phone dialer? Was it grandma?
I walked out to the living room. My mom answered the phone. It was her best friend, who told her she needed to turn on the TV. We didn’t watch TV in the morning. At least not on a school day.
My mom said something about a plane crash. I was confused, but I could sense the tension, the apprehension of my mom as she reached for the remote.
I knew it was serious, but I didn’t understand.
Next door to my mom’s classroom was the other second grade teacher. Her daughter was my best friend, Jill. Jill and I walked across the school yard to our class, just before the bell rang, trying to wrap our 10-year-old minds around what was happening in our country. At this point in the day, no one knew who was responsible for the attacks. We didn’t know if there would be more. I remember thinking, what if Los Angeles is next? We’re only about 50 miles away. If something happened there would it affect us?
I don’t remember what we did on that school day. I vaguely remember our teacher asking us what we knew about the morning’s attacks. I suppose some of us asked questions. I’m guessing we didn’t have much instruction that day.
While I don’t remember every moment of that day, I do have vivid memories of the moments I remember. I remember (and can sing every word to) the songs that played on the radio soon after. I couldn’t fully comprehend what had occurred. But somehow I knew that this was a day I’d never forget.
And I hope that I never do.
Every year on this day I return to these memories. As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to a much deeper understanding of the significance of that day, the the fragility of life, and the pain of loss.
Today I prayed for our nation, for our leaders. I prayed for the men and women who risked their lives to save others, both on that day and every day since then. I prayed for the families who lost loved ones on this day 18 years ago and the families who lost loved ones in the Middle East in the following years. They sacrificed everything for the rest of us at home.
Above all else, however, this day points me back to the One who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The One who is the perfect propitiation for our sins.
Jesus Christ humbled Himself to become a man. He lived a life in perfect accordance with the Law of God. The Law that we broke. He took the punishment that we deserved, for crimes that we committed. He laid down His life to reconcile humans to the Father. Through His death, He gave us life, and life abundant.
In Him, we have our hope. And it is to Him that we must look when we encounter evil in this fallen world.
Put your hope in Christ. Today and every day.