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FIRST-PERSON: Remembering Sept. 12, the day after

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–I certainly remember Sept. 11, 2001. Like millions of other people, I have a distinct memory of where I was and what I was doing as the towers fell.

But I also remember well Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the fateful event.

Tributes and documentaries have inundated the airwaves and the Internet regarding the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Rightfully so. The nefarious act and the loss of lives will ever scar the history of our nation. We must never forget.

And we must never forget the heroic acts that saved lives and rescued people. The tragedy gave us some of the greatest heroes of our nation’s history.

But I also remember the day after.

It would be an overstatement to say that the shock of the event had worn off just 24 hours later. To the contrary, most American citizens, and even others around the world, were still in a state of numbed disbelief.

But it was on the day after, Sept. 12, that I began to hear the questions. How could this happen? Why did this happen? Why did God let such evil people take the lives of so many innocent victims? What does this event mean for us as a nation?

So many of the questions were difficult to answer. There was no copy and paste response that could console a grieving and frightened nation. Churches would swell with attendees the next Sunday as both churched and unchurched America sought hope and tried to make some sense of this dreadful catastrophe.

I found myself captivated and challenged by the questions and the commentary the day after Sept. 11. And I pondered some of those same issues myself.

As I began to think and pray about 9/11 just one day later, I began to wonder about the eternity of those who had perished. I wondered how many had heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I wondered how many had received the gift of salvation through Him.

How many Christian co-workers, I wondered, had taken the time to share Christ with those who would lose their lives on that fateful day? How many believers had been lovingly and sufficiently bold to tell the Good News?

I truly wondered about these matters on Sept. 12.

And I wondered how many of those who perished told their spouses or their children that they loved them. How many of the victims left their survivors with memories of their love and concern for them?

You see, those were the things that really mattered to me on Sept. 12. Those were the questions at the forefront of my mind.

Perhaps more than anything, Sept. 12 reminded me why September 11 was so important to me. That horrendous day became a reminder to me to give my life to those things that really matter. A national tragedy became a personal marker.

And so on Sept. 12, I prayed that God would give me wisdom and opportunities to share the Gospel with greater boldness. I prayed that I would become a more compassionate Christian, and see others through the eyes of Christ. And I prayed that God would give me the heart to become a better husband and a better father.

Those were the things that mattered most.

On Sept. 12, 2001, I was reminded of what mattered most.

And after I prayed, I went home and told my wife how much I loved her. I called each of my boys to let them know how much I loved them, and how proud I was of them.

And I pledged not to let an opportunity go by where I did not share the love of Christ with others. I pledged not to let a moment pass where I did not tell my family how much I loved each of them.

I can’t make good sense out of Sept. 11.

But I can let Sept. 11 make good sense of my own life.

That was the gift of Sept. 12.

May we never forget.
Thom S. Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources. This column first appeared at ThomRainer.com.

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  • Thom S. Rainer