September 11, 2001. It is a date that changed everything…our view of normal shifted, never to be the same again. September 10, 2001 was just another day. School had begun again for the autumn season. The kids were back to classes. We were thinking of autumn activities. There was nothing memorable about that day.
Twenty-four hours. I cannot begin to put into words how those hours changed my life, those of my family, the lives of my American friends, people from around the world. A sense of normal, a sort of complacency that life had previously exhibited would be no longer; in an instant all that evapourated.
When I first became aware of the attacks of September 11th, I was watching a tape of a favourite preacher’s teaching. My son, who was home sick from school, came into the family room and told me to switch over to CNN’s reporting of the unfolding events in NYC. At this point, all that was known was that one tower had been hit by an airplane. No one was fully aware of the size of the airliner. It seemed like a personal aircraft had veered off course and accidentally collided with the tower. Within minutes, however, it became abundantly clear that we were drastically mistaken as we watched in horror as the second jet was aimed into the second tower. That was the moment that our perspective of security and normal was forever changed.
I immediately pulled out my Bible and turned to Psalm 91 and read it to my son. I was not going to give the enemy an advantage in my household. Fear would not gain a foothold in my family. No matter how insane the world had suddenly become, God’s Word and His Assurance in our lives was still steadfast and sure.
Over the next minutes, then hours, more information became available. The Pentagon was also a target. Another airliner was crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. All airline travel was suspended. The United States was in shock and Canada too. We could not believe such horrific attacks could reach our shores. Almost every other attack we had ever heard of was so far away in some remote part of the world, but this act was close to home. It could have been me or a friend or a loved on. All too soon it became apparent that so many we knew had someone they knew of who was killed or directly affected by this event.
September 12, 2001 dawned to a changed world. Had life altered or was it merely our perception of it? No more could we be completely innocent and untouched by tragedy. My kids, then 12 and 15 were forever shaped by the perspective of vulnerability. The images of the smoking ruins of the Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon and the remains of Flight 93 on our television screens made sure of that. I admit that I persuaded my husband not to travel to New Jersey that weekend to participate in a boat race, feeling he would be too close to center of these attacks, perhaps near where another event could happen. There was a sense of uncertainty in the days that followed.
Time and distance heals. It has now been fifteen years since 9/11 was etched in our memories. So much has happened since then. The war on terror has morphed on so many levels. It has become part of our peripheral landscape. ISIS is part of our common conversation. Dictators and tyrants have been toppled and new ones have taken their place on the world stage.
One thing has become evident. No matter how insane the world seems, with attacks and bombings becoming commonplace, God is still in control. He predicted all of these events long before they happened and even wrote them into His Word. It does not startle Him. He knew about it before the beginning of time, He Knows about it now and He Knows what will happen in the future. He is in Eternity. He Knows the end from the beginning. He gave the Apostle John a glimpse into the future and allowed him to share it with us in the Book of Revelation, as well as visions given to Ezekiel and Daniel, and the words of Jesus Himself. We know the end of the Book and God Wins, we as believers win. It is an Assurance we can rest in, a Comfort we can Know. For those who accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, our future is Sure. Hallelujah!
Judith Utman is the author of Voices in the Wilderness.