Monday, September 11, 2006

Where were you?

My mother and father can both recount the hour, the place, the moment when they were told about President Kennedy's assassination. Such an event was a defining moment for that generation and for our country... I awoke that morning, September 11, 2001, to a beautiful day in Abilene, Texas. All of my friends and I were quickly getting ready for the inauguration ceremony for the new president at Hardin-Simmons. We were all in choir and had to report to the chapel by 9:00am. I remember hurrying downstairs and through the dorm lobby the small huddle of girls, when everything froze. Time seemed to stand still as we walked past the lobby, saw the faces of those staring at the big screen TV, and then directing our own eyes to the breaking news. Everything was a blur, and there were still just pieces of information being reported as 9:00 Central Standard Time meant 10:00 Eastern: an hour right in the midst of the horrific, breaking news. No one could speak as we walked outside and down the sidewalk toward the chapel.
When we arrived at the chapel and up the stairs to the balcony, the din of noises and fear was almost more than I could take in. As the ceremony commenced, the new president, Dr. Craig Turner, came to the podium in tears. No one knew what to say. What was originally anticipated to be a beautiful, celebratory day in September had, in a moments notice, drastically turned into a blurred day of fear and confusion. All the president knew to do was pray. Pray and plead for mercy.
The remainder of the day was eery. How do you accurately describe a cloudless, bright, sunny day as the worst ever imagined? I remember just wanting to be with people. The few times I left the comfort of companions in the dorm, I noticed that no one in view was alone. The scarce amount of students walking around campus were never by themselves: no one wanted to be alone on such a day. I spent the majority of the day and into the evening across the hall from my own dorm room in the presence of close friends. We didn't want to leave. We didn't really know what else there was to do, or what we could do. So we just stayed together, watching and wondering. September 11 was on a Tuesday, and Grace Bible Study resumed as scheduled over at the Civic Center. An evening which is normally characterized by bustling college students, excited and glad to be together in worship and Bible study was a night of clinging to one another as never before. I look back and I am still incapable of describing the mood of the evening. As with the earlier hours in the day, no one knew what to do. We were weak, helpless, vulnerable, and confused. That night at the Civic Center is a blur, but there is one song I remember us fighting to sing in the midst of blinding tears.
Help us, our God, help us, our Savior
For the glory of Your name, for the glory of Your kingdom
Deliver us, and atone for our sins
Deliver us, and forgive all our sins
Help us, our God, we come to You desperately needy
Help us, our God, may Your mercy come quickly to meet us
Help us, our God, help us, our God,
Help us, our God, for Your namesake
Help us, our God

Five years have now passed, which is somewhat unbelievable. So many lives were lost, so many wives and brothers and friends are missed terribly, and I still find myself unable to muster up the words. I don't know how I would respond if I were given the opportunity to visit Ground Zero and behold the aftermath of the event. I have visited the Holocaust Museum in Israel, and remember not being able to stomach the pictures and testimonies of that horrific time in this fallen world's history. Many questioned (and may still) where God was during all the chaos of September 11. While in many respects I am still speechless, one thing I do know is that God is sovereign. He's never absent, never out of control, never in need of our sinful, weak selves. He is sovereign, and His ways are not our ways.

If you are reading this, or come across this post at a later date, I pray that you know that truth and cling to Him as your only comfort in the face of such indescribable suffering. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 ~ "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

1 comment:

Freddy T. Wyatt said...

A sad memory, A sovereign God. He put songs in both of our hearts during those days I see.