On this anniversary of 9/11, GospeLines would like to republish an old devotional. This was written a few months after this tragic event when the sights and sounds of that day were still fresh in the minds of everyone.
"No More Tears" (Aftermath of 9-11)
"For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Rev. 7:17)
The bloodied hand of the last survivor reached through twisted rubble in the direction of the voice of a New York fireman. Swollen eyes strained toward the narrow beam of light overhead. In twenty minutes she would be saved from the place she lay entombed for more than a day.
Stories rush through our minds, of heroism and terror. The images of buildings targeted by airplanes are etched into our memories. We won't forget that awful day. We shouldn't forget. But we, like the few survivors pulled from Ground Zero, must now move ahead. Beloved, it is time for us to reach toward the healing light and comforting voice of Jehovah God. Our sorrow will not simply walk away; we must nudge it along as we would a guest that has overstayed his welcome. Healing will come to us but not forgetting the tragic events that have marred our nation’s history. Our passage to recovery will open when we can embrace the future with a passion and determination equal to, or greater than our sorrow born from the tragedy.
Forget about it? Ignore it? No. Healing comes to us through a process which includes fear, anger, hopelessness, faith, acceptance and recovery. We would never shame those families who have suffered the loss of their loved ones by trampling the honor of their memories. As many of them said, "It is time to begin the healing process. That's what our husbands and fathers, brothers and sisters would want."
So, there comes a time to exchange our bereavement for bravado, our crying for courage, our anxiety for a stability anchored in everlasting hope. And this is that time. Terror may shake the foundations of the tallest buildings in the world, but it cannot budge the Rock upon which your faith has been built. Danger crippled the airlines of the greatest nation in the world, but it cannot deter your God-given mission. Caution has altered commerce, interfered with the way we communicate, and modified the methods we travel. But the work of the Kingdom will never change, prayer-lines have not been ripped apart, and the pathway to the altar of salvation remains open. For the fellowship of the redeemed, it is business as usual!
Bloodied, perhaps bowed but unbroken, the Church now squints through the rubble, seeks the ray of Light and hears the voice of the Almighty, "Go… make disciples of all nations… and I am with you always!" (Matt. 28:19-20) He has wiped away our tears, replaced our sackcloth with fresh armor, taken away our ragged shoes and has shod our feet with "the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Eph. 6:15)
We will not forget our terrible journey prompted by terrorism, and we will never again be the same as we were before. Now, there is a mission ahead of us that calls us back to duty. "Pray for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words will be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador…, pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." (Eph. 6:19-20)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I want to be as brave as You think I am, but I am not. I want to be all those things: courageous, fearless, and strong. But You know my humanity better than anyone. Please, God, let me "sit on the sidelines" just a little longer, I am not ready for this mission. Yet, if this cup cannot pass from me, You will have to do it through me. I cannot do it alone. I will reach toward Your light, and trust in Your strength, and walk in Your power. And frail as I am, You have graciously reminded me that it doesn't depend on me, but You are the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen and amen.
"For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you."
Matthew 6:14 (Amplified Bible)
Clint Eastwood is one of my favorite actors and he has distinguished himself in a broad array of movies. I especially like his westerns… one of which is “Unforgiven.” In case you don’t remember (it came out in 1992), Eastwood plays a weakened, once-violent but reformed gunfighter - and an aging pig farmer - in a violent tale of retribution. Clint’s character is struggling in his new life and decides to return to his old life - to settle the score - one more time.
I don’t know about you, but I’d speculate that the majority of us have gone down that dusty trail a time or two. We have been wounded and have wanted to settle the score – one more time.
Most have experienced pain caused by family members, spouses, friends, or our children. How often have we been angry with someone – because of their actions or inaction – and we can’t seem to forgive them? Often times, in the midst of our unforgiveness, it takes its toll on us emotionally and physically as well. The object of our anger may not have a clue about our feelings or may not be concerned.
I can recall many disagreements with my mother because she never understood and accepted my uniqueness. I didn’t measure up to her ideal and no matter how hard I tried; it was never going to happen.
For years, I internalized the constant reminders of my shortcomings in her eyes. I lived with constant stomach problems. When we lived in the same city, our relationship was sometimes strained. However, once my family and I moved away, my general health and outlook improved. I could keep my emotions in check from afar.
She eventually relocated to my city and was on my turf. I could control the way I responded as she became dependent on me. While I was not initially thrilled at the prospect of her living near me, I did all possible to make her comfortable in her last years despite the way I often felt. I had to learn to forgive and to forget yesteryear. There’s an adage that goes, “Let go and let God.” I had to learn to let go, as difficult as that may be.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, often we reach our limits and want to settle the score one more time. When we are about to take that path, please remind us of Your word found in Isaiah 35:4 (King James Version): "Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you." Help me to let it go and to let You handle it! Amen!
"Therefore Jesus said again, I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep...whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:7-10)
At night, the shepherd gathered the sheep into sheep-folds for protection. The villages had a communal fold where the sheep slept, guarded by a huge, heavy door. Only the gatekeeper had the key. Only he could decide who would go in or out, thus protecting the sheep from thieves. In the warm months the sheep would stay out in the fields at night. There was no door to block the entrance, only a walled area with an opening where the sheep could enter. The shepherd would lie down in the opening to block the sheep from leaving in the night, and to keep intruders from entering. In essence, the shepherd became the door for the sheep-fold.
That was what Jesus had in mind when he said "I am the gate." When the wolf comes to devour, our Shepherd will not abandon his post. The night-thief is blocked from entering the fold to steal away the sheep He has worked so hard to save. As sheep, we may feel secure in the green, plentiful pastures the Shepherd has prepared, and drink deeply from the waters of peace and security.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, your presence in time of trouble gives me blessed assurance that all is well even when there is danger all around me. You give me strength in my weakness, you sustain me in my time of hunger, you lift me up when I fall, and you set my feet straight again when I choose to follow the crooked path. Thank you for loving me. Amen and amen.
John C. Maxwell describes one of those "Amen Moments" in his book Today Matters (Time Warner Book Group, 2004). He tells of a mother and daughter who went shopping. The mother continually complained about everything: the crowds, the merchandise, the prices, etc. On and on she complained until, in complete frustration, she told her daughter that she would never go back to a particular store because of the "dirty look" the sales clerk gave her. The daughter then said,
"She didn't give it to you, Momma. You had it when you went in."
At this moment, had we all been watching this scene unfold, we would have no doubt said… "Amen!"
How often is the negative attitude of those around us merely a reflection of our own? How many times have our failures been preceded by the conviction that we would fail? Like the woman in John Maxwell's story, we brought our attitude of failure and frustration with us when we started.
Now, let's turn this around. How often is the positive attitude of those around us a reflection of our own? How many times have our successes been preceded by the conviction that we would not fail? Have you ever walked up to someone who looked down and dejected and said in a cheery and upbeat voice,
"Hi! How are you this beautiful day?"
Isn't it interesting how often that same person who looked so down only moments before will suddenly brighten right up and respond in kind?
Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." (Mathew 5:14-15)
GospeLines Prayer:Heavenly Father, let us always bring light to those around us regardless of our circumstances or the tribulations of the world. Let us be witness that the True Light that gives light to every person has come into the world. Although the world was made through Him, the world has not recognized Him. Father, give us a spirit of grace and love so that we may share His light with the world in His name, the mighty name of Jesus. Amen!
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 2:5
Upon receiving his sight, the blind man promoted Jesus from being a mere man to accepting Him as the Son of God! He knew that Jesus had powers beyond those of anyone he had ever known.
Napoleon was once with a group of skeptical men who were discussing the validity of the deity of Jesus. They dismissed Jesus as being nothing more than a very great man. Napoleon said, "Gentlemen, I know men, and Jesus Christ was more than a man."
The trouble with human relationships is that the more we know someone, his weaknesses and faults, the more we see that he has feet of clay. But the more we know Jesus, the greater the wonder becomes. Oh, that we could know Him better than we know ourselves, and see Him as one who will never let us down in time or eternity. Amen and amen.