SEPT 11, 2001

Hello friends and family,

I have felt compelled to submit some thoughts concerning the tragedies that took place last week.  My purpose is most likely varied, but I hope my thoughts are not too scattered.  I write this in part as an attempt to organize my thoughts, in part to offer encouragement to others who might benefit from another perspective, and partly because I have a desire to just do "something" - much like the guy whom I pass sitting on the side of the road with a flag and a sign that says "Honk for America."

First I must say that Amity and I find our hearts broken.  Broken for the families whose lives have been shattered.  Broken for the individuals who came face to face with terror.  Broken for our nation which has been overestimating its own strength.  And broken as well for the band of men who had believed a lie, and woke up on the other side of eternity to discover the horror of their wickedness.  Each day my heart has found a new way to ache.

Between my work duties last tuesday, I tuned in and out of radio broadcasts, listening to things unfold.  It was not an event that took place and ended, but a series of catastrophes that stretched across the whole morning and seemed unwilling to stop.  First one tower.  Then the other.  Then the pentagon.  Then a tower collapsing.  I listened live as the second one came down.  The station cut to their reporter on the scene, but he was screaming, frantic and terrified.  They quickly cut away, but everyone listening heard and my hands trembled for minutes.  I don't want to think about what it was like to be there.  For days my throat choked up whenever I passed lowered flags.

It's affected me in a lot of ways.  I've never had a greater love for our country.  I've never had a greater love for those whom I come in contact with around me.  And I've never had a greater love for God.

I don't find myself wondering why this happened.  Rather, I find myself wondering why it hasn't happened before.  The rest of the world lives with this kind of violence regularly, some on a daily basis.  It astounds me that the Lord thought it good to protect us from this kind of experience for so long.  We are truly blessed.  In addition to the lyrics I've heard a lot recently, I remind myself also that "God HAS blessed America."  I'm thankful.

I am glad that so many people have made an effort to pray this week.  I hope people individually and as a nation continue to turn to the Lord for their strength. 

My immediate reaction was to reflect on how small we are.  To remember once again that I don't know what I think I know.  Out of all the people who walked by those towers on Monday, who would have guessed those buildings would be gone this week.  Some of the most giant man-made objects on earth, and they are gone in an hour.  Which of those unfortunate victims would have guessed that morning would be their last.  I find it strange how the media seems to be coming to the opposite conclusion.  The moral of the story that has often been presented is that "America is so strong" and that the "human spirit conquers all."  Of all the conclusions that could be reached, I hope those aren't the ones that win out. 

Although my favorite passage of Scripture is elsewhere, the chapter I tend to read the most often is Isaiah 40.  It's wonderful to visit in all sorts of circumstances: when you're up, when you're down, when you're in need, or when you feel like you've got everything together.  It's a great passage for adjusting one's perspective.  I've read it through several times this past week.  The whole chapter is great, but since I can't retype it all here, I'll pull out these verses:

vs.1   "Comfort, comfort My people, says your God."

vs.6b  "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field."

vs.8   "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever."

vs.25-26  "'To whom will you compare Me?  Or who is My equal?' says the Holy One.  Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?...  Because of His mighty strength, not one of them is missing."

vs.28-29  "Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

This encourages me, because although we as a people have been disrupted, there is Someone we can turn to Who is unshakeable.  I hope we turn to Him for our strength and not our grassy selves.

I do sincerely believe our nation is the greatest in all history thus far.  Our country IS great - and it's greatness comes from God.  I hope we acknowledge any good we see are gifts from Him and not things we've mustered up.  Our country IS great - and still its greatness pales in comparison to the overwhelming greatness of the Lord.

Another effect all this has had on me, is that it has given me a greater desire to be good.  As horrible as evil is, it is refreshing to hear its existence acknowledged.  So often the theme of the day is "do what's right for you and I'll do what's right for me and let's leave eachother alone."  Rarely do we see people on t.v. even mention the word "evil."  But some things are black and white.  We've seen that human beings terminating the lives of the innocent is evil.  And I'm glad our nation has been reminded of this. 

And as I said, I've had a desire to see goodness increase in me.  Good and bad do exist.  In other countries, in my own country, and in myself.  I want to acknowledge that the good I see in me is from the Lord and by His salvation, and I want to see that good cultivated.  And with the Lord's help I renew my effort to identify the ungodly in me and surrender it to Him.  I pray America does the same.

I know the chances are around 100% that most of us will slowly return to the daily routine and forget many of the lessons we've learned during this time of fresh perspective.  I hope I take enough lessons with me that I don't need another reminder.

Thanks to those of you with whom I've had conversations this past week.  I've treasured your insights.  And I'm glad to know every one of you on this mailing list.  You're a joy to me...

God bless (and God has blessed),

- Aaron