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Even This Day

I wasn’t going to do this today. I was planning on just getting through the day.

Yet as I distracting myself with the daily routine of living, this verse crossed my mind, “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

And I said to myself, “Yes, even today.”

Fourteen years ago today, at 9:37 am, my father lost his life. September 11, 2001 was a day of sorrow and terror. Even so, I have found hope. It was not all evil that day, but love and support, hope and encouragement.

Several years ago I wrote an article for the Dalhart Texan. The response I received was overwhelming. In fact, it was this article that inspired me to write my book, SILENT RESOLVE AND THE GOD WHO LET ME DOWN.

And so I thought this day, today, that the Lord has made, I would share it with you.

 

*                   *                   *

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life.

Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out

death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Thoughts on September 11

            The events of September 11, 2001 mark a change in my life. On that day my precious father, Stanley R. Hall, was ripped from this world as American Airlines flight 77 plummeted into the Pentagon in Washington DC. Numb and dazed we walked those first months. FBI agents, memorials, honors given, all a haze of lost senses. As we traveled by car to Virginia that night, the skies were silent, empty and dark. The amazing thing about the night sky without planes, the stars are more notable. It was as though the magnificence of God’s majesty shined the brighter for the lack of man’s influence upon the heavens. Beyond this world, there lies goodness that cannot be touched by evil.

 

            “The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope    returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.”

                                                                        ~J.R.R. Tolkien

 

September, 11, 2001, a day like any other, began as a beautiful fall day, the air fresh, the sun warm, and the skies clear. As always the children and I began our day with our Bible study. The day’s subject was Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. In discussing the three being placed into the fiery furnace for their unwavering faith in God, I made the cryptic statement that no matter what happens in our life, even when we go through the fiery furnace, still we must follow the Lord. I did not know that at that very moment my own life would be put through the furnace and my words tested. But I think the key is in the word “through”, for we do go through, we do not stay in the furnace. There is an end to our trouble if we stand firm. For even as the three young men stood within the flames of the furnace, they were not alone, but a fourth stood beside them. We are not alone. And so I say “even so” I will serve the Lord.

“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear.What can man do to me?’”

                                                                       Hebrews 13:5-6

 

So what then can man do to me? For the keeper of my soul watches me. Though God’s protection is not always for our bodies, it is a constant for our souls. And in the end, it is our final home that is most important. This mortal coil which we cling to so ardently is not what it is all about. Yet when one that is loved is taken, we cannot help but look back at what has been lost. Memories haunt our thoughts, they sneak up and jar us unawares, then the heart ache grabs us and grief spills out as we melt into a puddle of emotion.

Memories, those distant thoughts that bind us to our past, cause so much pain, and comfort. I miss the sound of his footsteps upon the wood floor as he came home each night. I miss the soft creak of the stairs late at night when all others had gone to bed. His sneezing in the morning, the look upon his face as he silently sat and watched as the family gathered. His “how about that” so often said, his meaning clear “I love you.” I miss his resolve to lead a life of integrity, and honor, and steadfastness, his quiet and resolute spirit to follow God where ever He led, to whatever end. There is no question in my mind that on the morning of September 11th that my dear father followed God and entered into his glory.

My father was a patriot. Often a tear could be seen tracing a path down his cheek when the national anthem was played. Forever the flag, those beautiful stars and stripes, will be etched into my mind as a symbol of loss, of freedom, of pride.

 

 Flags flying, bold stripes of red and white,

Brilliant stars of freedom’s might,

Remind us all that freedom is

Bought with a precious price.

 

The terrible acts on September 11th demonstrate to us that freedom is not guaranteed. How fragile we hold it, knowing that its loss is but one generation away. We must never forget all who have sacrificed so much down through the ages, and are those paying for our freedoms still.

Yet when the cost is placed upon your own life, it is hard to bear. As we think upon the evil that runs ramped in this world it is easy to rise up and cry out, “Why God?” just as the prophet Habakkuk did as the Babylonian army marched on Jerusalem in 605BC.

 

 O LORD, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save.

You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously,  And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he?”

                                                                                    Habakkuk 1:2; 1:13

 

Yet who can know the mind of God? God created man with free will, but this gift comes with a price. Man often uses his free will to choose evil. As long as we live upon this earth, the free will of man will touch our lives for good or for ill.

So what did God say in reply to the prophet’s question?

 

                     “Look among the nations and watch—Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

                                                                                    Habakkuk 1:5

 

So I wait on the Lord.

 

  “I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.”

                                                                                    Habakkuk 2:1

 

There is a comfort even in tragedy if one walks according to God’s will. “For the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalm 37:23), therefore each step taken must pass before the sanction of God. With the Lord’s ultimate control, the fabric of His plan is woven, each of His children being a single thread. It is a strange comfort to know that nothing can befall you without God’s approval. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) This is not to say that all things are good, but that they work to the good of our future, to fulfill the ultimate good of God’s plan – a plan of Redemption for humanity.

As I stand on the brink of a new day, looking to the east as the golden orb opens her eye above the horizon; I feel her warmth upon my face. Her radiant beams reach out across the skies and chase the dark of night away. So too I stand and wait upon God’s Son as he illuminates my new day with His warmth and love. And so I place my trust in Him, the Keeper of life, the Strength of my soul.

 

“I wish none of this had happened.”

“So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them

to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that

is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Sometimes the path is difficult, and we grow weary and we wish we did not have to face what lies ahead. No one can know our hurts and our sorrows. Yet the Lord knows, for He has walked this path before us. All we must do is follow Him through. Though that path may be slick and we may stumble, the Lord has gone before us and marked the way.

Life continues, the young grow, the seasons pass, yet one is missing. But he waits for me – I will join him in glorious reunion. His life has been a testimony of faith for me to follow. He lived his Silent Resolve. So I face a new day as I “haul up the morning” and though the morning may seem distant I stand firm knowing that the night must always give way to the dawn.

The books will be balanced – but not in our time, in God’s time.

 

 “For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.”

Habakkuk 2:3

 

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