I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news about the World Trade Center attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001. The odd thing is, it took some time before I understood what was really unfolding.
I was working at a radio station in Gladwin, Michigan. I had been hired in as a reporter, but the station was slowly weaning that responsibility from me as they shifted their emphasis away from local news. Just before our national news break at the top of the hour, I got a phone call from one of our salespeople. She told me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. My reaction was, "Oh, wow." That's it. Just, "Oh, wow." In my mind, I was thinking of a small two passenger airplane that got off course... certainly not a jet. I thanked her, and made a quick mention of it leading up to the newscast.
We had no television at the radio station, and that first national broadcast didn't provide a lot of detail. We continued playing country music after the news break, updating weather, announcing songs as normal. Then I got the second call. Another plane had crashed into the towers. This time I remember clearly saying, "Oh... this is no accident!"
The rest of the morning, I felt hopeless. Just hopeless. We turned our programming over to the network for wall-to-wall coverage. We interviewed a local Pastor to have him pray on the air for our country. My reporter's "nose for news" began searching for any local angle. I called one of our legislators in Lansing to see what precautions, if any, were being taken at the State Capitol. His aide called later to say they were shutting down the building.
Then... a plane struck the Pentagon. Another went down in Pennsylvania. That's when I got scared. When would it stop? How far would this go? Were any of us safe? It was obvious that we were at war. Osama Bin Laden had already set off one explosive at the WTC years earlier. He was #1 on the FBI's Most Wanted List. I had no doubt he was behind this attack as well.
It wasn't until mid-afternoon when I arrived home that I was actually able to turn on a television and see what was happening. I couldn't watch, yet couldn't look away. How could this be happening in our country?
The following Sunday, I became a statistic. I joined with millions of others who hadn't set foot in a church for months or even years. I prayed. I called out to God.
Then I forgot about Him.
Yet a seed was planted in my life that week. God began to turn up the volume and draw me back to Him. Not to organized religion... but to Him. It would take another eight months, but eventually I found a new church family, re-dedicated my life to Christ, and began a new chapter that would lead to my becoming a Pastor.
On September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the attacks, our church honored and celebrated our fallen heroes, our government, and local police officers in our Sunday services. Two of our township officers were in the service, and received a standing ovation. It was my proudest moment to date as a minister.
Romans 8:28 promises that all things work for the good for those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purposes. That has certainly been true of the 911 story in my life. Today, I honor the heroes who fought and died that day, by dedicating my life fully, 100% to God.
By doing so, I'm better equipped to serve others to the best of my ability, and snatch the lost from the fire.