We all remember where we were 10 years ago on the 11th of this month? It was a day which seems to be seared into our memories. Planes dropped from the skies, buildings burning, rescue and fire vehicles screaming through streets, walls crashing, ash settling on the streets; people attempting to escape, while others were choosing immediate death. Yes, it is truly a day which seems to hang onto our conscious, as we continue to say, “We will never forget.”
I was sitting down to breakfast in my peaceful farmhouse kitchen. Tina was cooking pancakes, while Dr. Whetstone and I drank coffee and talked cows. Someone called, Tina answered the phone and ran to the living room. Turning the volume up on the television set, she called out, “Guys, come here.” Lee and I slowly got up, grabbed the coffee mugs and ambled into the living room, where we found Tina holding the spatula as tears streamed down her face.
Live, from New York City in downtown Manhattan, while we sat in the safety of our home on Lookout Mountain, we watched as the second plane crashed into the twin towers, while the camera scanned the horizon to show the flames of fire coming from the other tower. The explosion of the second plane took place, the fire raged and for an hour we sat and watched in terror as the world as we knew it came apart at the seams.
We would learn later that morning, another plane, United Flight 97, had gone down in an open field in Pennsylvania and yet, another had taken aim at the Pentagon causing some damage to that center of military information and intelligence. It was a horrible morning.
Several pastors and I talked through out the morning, checking on each other and what was a good course of action to take. We planned impromptu prayer meetings in our sanctuary’s later that day, in an effort to console and show compassion for people we had never met.
Checking on people, connected with our church family, we were working the phones and internet, as we searched for answers. One church member had a son in New York and we heard from him right before the scheduled prayer time, another friend was unaccounted for until later that afternoon…
And so the day went.
As our world came apart at the seems, we knew of no other place to turn than to turn to a God who would not, could not fail us. In the aftermath of the terror of planes falling from the skies and the effort of a terrorist attack on American soil, the people of America turned to God. Many found their ways to church houses and places of worship, kneeling in the altars and laying their heads on the back of pews, searching for strength and stamina for themselves and seeking God’s mercy and compassion for those in great need. In the hours and days which followed the attacks of 9/11, it seemed as if America was heading toward a great revival.
I stood in the pulpit of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church the Sunday following 9/11 and said, “What the Devil meant for evil; God means for Good!” I wished I had been able to say that to America! The devil, the one who desires confusion and mayhem in this world, was the instigator behind 9/11. Some wanted to place blame at the feet of God, but I tell you as I have said for 10 years, it was the devils doing. He was the planter of the seed of hatred and bitterness, envy and strife that grew into a tree of destruction and death to over 2,000 people on that evil day. He wanted to turn America away from God; He wanted to destroy Christianity, love and kindness, compassion and care; but what he did, God took it and used it for good.
For the next several months churches were overflowing with people seeking God and His answers to lifes most pressing issues. For several months there was talk of God and salvation; hope and help found only in the Word of God. Fires of revival replaced the fires of the towers, as people sought to reconnect with the God of grace and mercy.
Political leaders talked openly of their relationship with God, calling on America to seek Him for help and hope. People were more open to conversations related to God and the afterlife. Yes, a wind of the Spirit of God was blowing across the heartland of America and it seemed to be that the people of America were heading toward a moment of real revival, as God’s people turned their hearts toward that one who stands when all else falls and fails.
It has now been 10 years since the attacks and yet as we look back we see what had happened and it truly breaks my heart.
We went to war with Islam, attempting to eradicate terrorist cells, with the use of our military might. America ended up fighting in a war that is as old as the Bible and one which will not be settled until Jesus returns for His church, the bride. As a nation we attempted to reconcile the attacks on American soil as a misunderstanding of faith, and have tried to re-educate the American people to be more understanding and tolerate, to the point of even pushing the issues of political correctness and diversity.
While we watched the world change, churches went back to a normal way of life. On the average, the church in America is unchanged and Christianity is being condemned and consigned to myths and mysteries which are too old and too outdated for today’s more mobile, educated, and elevated society. As Christ is pushed to the side, relegated to a place and status of equality with other gods and beliefs, leaders are prone to espouse their favorite verses, but yet talk of some other philosophy and belief which is contrary to the Word of God as a whole.
Yes, friends, America missed a golden opportunity to turn completely, unapologetically to God and experience a revival of sorts that would have truly changed our world. But we allowed military and social intervention to become priorities instead of prayer and confession of sin and acceptance of Christ as the only true way to eternal life.
It is not too late, though. We still have breath in our lungs, blood flowing through our veins and we are still a free society. With that said I believe a revival can still shake our churches from their complacency and bring us to a point of being true change agents in this world. It is time the people of God take a stand for the things of God and move forward with the power of God.
Throughout the Word of God we find challenges placed before the people of God. Challenges which were bigger and more threatening than anything they had ever experienced, but they trusted in God. David went into the valley to face the giant with five stones and a sling, but he acknowledged it was God that would give him success. It was Joshua who would lead the people of God into the Promised Land and God told him more than once that he was to have no fear for God had already given him the land. It was Nehemiah who rebuilt the wall around the city of Jerusalem with the strength of God, in the midst of trying and difficult circumstances. Rahab the Harlot secured the spies and gained the promise not to be killed in the city of Jericho but to have safety. Queen Esther found God was a keeper of promises.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 there is a promise for us who choose God and choose to allow Him to change us and use us for Hid glory: “[If] my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (HCSB) God requires us to come to Him, call on Him in humility through prayer, seeking His face-and do so means turning away from our sinful life. The rewards of such a posture before Him will be that God will hear from His seat in heaven, forgive our sin through His Sons death on the cross of Calvary, and true healing will take place in our land, starting in our life.
That is where revival starts! It starts in the heart and the life of the believer and flows like a mighty river released from its boundaries into the lives and hearts of all we touch and come in contact with each day of our lives.
May real revival sweep our nation and may it start with me!