On 9/11 Five Years Ago, In Less Than a Day ...

... the world changed, America changed, and I changed.

Five years is a long time...a long time, that is, when life is just plugging along at a mild and sometimes even monotonous manner. But when you measure time by times of shock and horror, five years can seem like yesterday.

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when your expectations of the day were shattered and time stood still as you heard the unbelievable words and sickening images flooded into your world? Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when the events of September 11, 2001 brought about a surreal feeling of distress and rendered you speechless?

And so now here we are- a nation with a very different and rapidly changing landscape. Who could have predicted the sweeping changes that would be brought about as a result of 9/11? Heightened security, terror alerts, war, and a perpetual dread that each day might bring news of another attack on our homeland.

Of course, there’s another way to look at our world since the WTC tragedy. Most of us tend to pay attention to the external changes implemented since that fateful day, but I propose on this 5th anniversary that we take some time and take an internal assessment of how the events of 9/11 have transformed the way we live our lives. Why? Because, put simply, if the events of that day haven’t changed us significantly, in some ways we dishonor the memory of those who perished.

So please allow me to be transparent for a moment and open the window of my soul to show you how the day that seemed like yesterday changed the way I live today. Perhaps in doing so it will change the way you live as well, because when we let that happen, we actually help God in the process of turning tragedy into a triumph over evil.

I wear different glasses

Actually I don’t wear glasses at all…but I do have a “lens” by which I interpret the world (and particularly the people) around me. Mine was radically altered that day, because it used to be pretty easy to evaluate people by what they could do for me or how they made me feel. 9/11 altered my perspective in a way that reflects the lens that Jesus used:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

Our time with people is never guaranteed, and each encounter affords the opportunity for us to help them encounter Jesus.

I wear a different watch

Ever feel like there are so many things you want to do, but you just don’t have the time? That’s one way to look at life, but the truth is that time is all you have. We need to look at our watches not thinking about what is coming up, what we are late or early for, but rather about what opportunity we might be wasting. It’s the two extra minutes of conversation with a lonely friend, a second hug for loved ones, a thank you prayer to God for an amazing sunset…I think you get the idea. Now when I think to look at my watch, I obviously think about what time it is, but I also think of the “watch” the Apostle Paul wore:

So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

I wear different shoes

When I was a little kid in Sunday School, we used to sing a song that will stick with me for the remainder of all time. It’s called ‘Oh Be Careful’, and one of the verses went like this:

Oh be careful little feet, where you go
Oh be careful little feet, where you go
For the Father up above is looking
Down in love
So be careful little feet, where you go.

Of course this is an injunction that meant that I should avoid any all places of temptation, but now to me it has an additional meaning as well. For most of us, our feet serve to take us where we can get our needs met. I go to the store because I’m hungry, to the bank because I need money, to the movies because I’m bored, to the gym so I can look like an American Idol, etc. etc. But perhaps God gave us feet to be able to go places where we can help meet the needs of others as well. There are lonely, sick, imprisoned, and hungry people who go to the grave with the thought that nobody cared. We should be careful that our little feet don’t just go places that are all about us, because the Father up above is looking for us to show love!

"Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, `Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons! For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me no clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.' (Matthew 25:41-43)

Five years ago in less than a day, the world changed, America changed, and I changed. The question I would put before you is this:

Are you willing to change as well?


Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with youth leaders and students, equipping them to be effective in sharing the gospel. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, please visit http://www.christianpost.com/article/20060911/www.dare2share.org. Find out how Dare 2 Share Ministries and Focus on the Family® are working together to capture the hearts of this generation of teenagers, visit http://www.capturetheirhearts.com/. Send feedback to lane@dare2share.org.