The falling of the tears.
After twelve years, I still find myself unable to look away on this fine September morning. As I said last week, life goes on, but this is no ordinary day. It is an anniversary that always rings with more emotional depth than I had anticipated. It is somewhat important, for me at least, to experience once again the shock, the pain, the incredulity, the sadness of what took place twelve years ago. As I do so, I can’t help but think about my friend Tom Tella who walked out of one of the towers and survived; I can’t imagine what it must be like for those with loved ones who did not make it.
I sometimes say that there are very popular preachers who will tell you that all you have to do is believe in Jesus, get up in the morning and smile, and God will bless you. I am not one of them. Any preacher who sidesteps the irrationality we see in the world, or who encourages their congregation to be in denial, is doing no favor to the Good News we proclaim. Whether it is the tragedy of 911 or the deaths of innocent children from poisonous gas, we cannot look away. Nor can we proclaim simplistic explanations that insult both God and our listeners.
Of course, if I had a sophisticated explanation, I would be happy to share it with you. I do not. But I will share a bit of Good News that occurs to me on this day. These events, inexplicable as they are, bring true perspective to our everyday lives in a way that enables us to live more faithfully. Earlier this week I suffered from an insufferable emotional myopia: my attention was drawn to such things as an aching knee, a cranky garage door opener, and mild anxiety over the recent losses of the Texas Rangers. Today those issues don’t rate a blip on the radar screen, and life somehow seems more precious.
Perhaps old Abraham, standing with knife in hand, couldn’t fathom what it was that God was doing, but he did get the message that life comes as a gift. That might be a pretty good starting point as you and I navigate our way through both the irrationality and the beauty of a world that we cannot comprehend. We embrace our loved ones, accept the gift of life for one more day, and move forward on our journey with the commitment to remain focused on the important things that really make a difference.