September 11, 2001. I woke up that morning in guest housing at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I had been up late and woke up early as I was preparing my Project Proposal for my final doctoral seminar. That morning, I did not even turn on the television as I was frantically typing and editing and typing some more. About 9:30, I left my room to go to the library for a few minutes before chapel service. As I went downstairs to my car, another student asked me what I thought about what was going on. I asked him what he was talking about, and he told me about the airplane striking the World Trade Center. I rushed back upstairs and turned on the news just in time to see the first tower fall. I think I was in shock. I called home to talk to Sonya, and I think we both cried as we watched and waited. As the events became more clear and we began to understand this was a terrorist attack, our thoughts went to Jennifer at college and Ashley at high school. We prayed. We cried. We watched the news.
I was in turmoil. Should I stay and watch what was unfolding or go to chapel. Time had slipped by and I forgot about the library. I decided to go to chapel services. It was a solemn occasion as Dr. Kelly shared the events of the morning. Many in chapel had not heard. The silence was tangible until the sobs began and the prayers started ringing out. “Thousands, as many as ten thousand, could be dead,” was the announcement. How could this possibly be? Classes were cancelled for the day. I think everyone was in shock. I had heard the announcement that all flights had been grounded, and yet as I returned to my room, a large passenger jet flew over the seminary. Perhaps it just seemed lower than normal, but my heart skipped a beat.
As I watched the news for the rest of the day, I debated in my heart. Should I stay at the seminary, or should I return home? It was a difficult decision. My family needed me. My church needed me. What do I do? Sonya and I decided that I should stay and complete the seminar. I typed a message for the church to be read at the Wednesday night service, and tried to focus on the task at hand. It was difficult.
The next morning, I called Sonya. Weary from late-night news watching. As we talked, me on my cell phone and Sonya on our cordless phone, there was the sound of an explosion and the line went dead. My heart dropped. Later, I would find that Sonya was terrified. Could it have been another terrorist attack? Why would anyone attack Bon Secour, Alabama. It didn’t make sense. I couldn’t breathe. Finally, when communication was restored, we discovered that a squirrel had chosen that moment to climb on the transformer outside of the house, and he met his doom. A terrorist squirrel! Who would have thought? After we got over the heart-stopping fear, we laughed. It was good to laugh after what our nation had been through. It was good to see people come together from all political parties, all races, all cultures, all denominations. What a thrill to watch as members of our Congress sang “God Bless America” on the steps of the capitol building. What a blessing to see our churches full the following Sunday. How sad it was to watch as everything returned to normal in a few weeks.
Why are we like that? Adversity brings us together, causes us to turn to God, but it is only short-lived. As soon as we feel safe again, we go about our business as usual and put God back on the shelf until we need Him again. With all that has been said about this weekend, all the prophetic rumblings and mysteries “revealed,” could it be that we are facing another shaking? Another catastrophe that will send us running back to God? I fear that it may be so, but if it is, I am ready. I am praying that God will used this to shake us to our cores, to cause us to see how far we have wandered from Him, and that this time, H e will draw us back to Him as believers and that we will experience the depth of revival that I have been praying for since the early 90s. God, renew in us that steadfast spirit that calls us to holiness, faithfulness, and loving service to you and to those around us.