I read a story this week about the battle at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Md. This battle was the bloodiest in U.S. history, leaving 23,000 casualties on a single day, Sept. 17, 1862. And yet, it might never have happened, but for what has been called a “’freakish’ twist of fate.” Days earlier, copies of General Robert E. Lee’s brilliant invasion orders, wrapped around cigars, had accidentally fallen in a field. Those orders were found by Union infantrymen and passed up the chain of command. Some historians say that Antietam was “THE” deciding battle of the civil war. But for the carelessness with something so precious, who knows what the outcome would have been of that battle and the whole war?
Before He was betrayed and crucified, Jesus disclosed His battle plans to the people. He told them that if they destroyed His body (the temple), He would raise it up in 3 days (John 2:19). There were some who thought they had secured vital battle plans to pass on to His enemies. At His trial, there were some who exaggerated and gave false testimony, saying He had threatened the physical temple (Mark 14:58). Of course, these battle plans were useless to the enemy because they couldn’t decipher what He meant. Though crucified, Christ was still victorious over death, appearing to have lost a battle, but winning the war.
Christians have been entrusted with something so precious – the word of God. And it isn’t just a battle or a war that is on the line, but it is the fate of our loved ones and everything we hold dear. The whole world is in a battle with sin and we have been given a plan for victory. Will we treat it carelessly and leave it behind in a field for the enemy to use against us? Or will we guard it and protect it with our very lives? The greatest tragedy of human loss in our nation’s history can possibly be traced to carelessness, but that day when millions will be called into judgment will be far worse if we fail to follow and protect the victory plan!
Yesterday was the anniversary of 9/11. Where were you when you heard the towers had been hit? Do you remember that day? I remember watching the news as they thought it was some kind of crazy accident…until the 2nd plane hit. Then there was no mistaking it. This was a deliberate act of terrorism by those who intended to harm us and cause fear in the hearts of all Americans.
The next week, we were supposed to go to the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the North Tower for my Grandmother’s 80th birthday. It is difficult to imagine that the restaurant was there one day and gone the next. The restaurant had 72 staff members working that morning. There were also 92 people present for eating, maintenance, and special conferences. Either due to smoke inhalation, fire, falling to their deaths, or the final collapse, none of the people who were trapped on the 106th & 107th floor restaurant survived. In fact, the famous picture of a man in white falling from the North Tower is thought to be a chef or waiter jumping to escape the intense heat from the flames.
I hate to admit that I really don’t think about 9/11 very often. And I am sorry to say I rarely think about those employees until the 9/11 memorial comes around each year. The thing about life, though, is that most of us move on. It isn’t anything evil or inappropriate; we just get busy. Life demands so much from us these days that taking time to reflect is a luxury most of us don’t have. But it is so important that we pause and remember. We must pause to remember the victims of 9/11 and we must pause to remember the sacrifices of policemen, fire fighters, and so many who gave their lives trying to save others that day.
As Christians, we must take time to pause and reflect on the sacrifice made by our Lord and Savior. Of course, we take time each Sunday to eat and drink crackers and juice, but do we really reflect in our hearts on the pain and anguish that Jesus experienced on that cross? What was it like to take on the burden of sin for us? I can’t imagine what it was like for that young man who had to make the decision to jump from a burning building, but the bible gives me some insight into the pain Jesus experienced as He made the decision to go to the cross: the blood in His sweat, His prayers, His pain, His obedience.
So let’s be sure to remember the victims of 9/11. And if you are a Christian, every day is a good day to remember what Christ has done for you. I hope you can make it out to worship with His saints this Sunday and join in remembering His death, burial, and resurrection. And if you are not a Christian and you want to learn more about what Christ’s sacrifice means for you, please get in touch and let’s study together what an amazing gift He has given us!
That happened! One writer dubbed it the “Stupidest Football Play In History.” If you have no idea what I am talking about, Andre Parker, a player at Kent State picked up the football after it hit one of Towson’s players on the punt receiving team. He then proceeded to run 58 yards in the wrong direction! The play was full of mistakes: the young man ran the football the wrong way, the opposing players tackled him instead of letting him score 2 points for them, and the officials should have called the play dead!
In the end, it was like one giant “do-over.” Did you ever want one of those…you know, the kind we had as kids? I am sure Andre Parker wishes he could erase the whole thing, but in a world of video, YouTube, cell phones, and instant information, this video was sent in a Tweet almost instantly to the whole world. The things that people do today, especially their mistakes, are instantly displayed for all to see. I am embarrassed to say, I once shot at the wrong goal in a basketball game! I had just come in off the bench a few minutes after we changed directions, I wasn’t paying attention, and I grabbed a rebound and put it right back up. Ugh…my coach yanked me from the floor and put me back on the bench; it took a long time for people to forget. I am just thankful there was no such thing as a cell phone camera, YouTube, Twitter, or an internet back then! It is almost impossible for people to forget these embarrassing videos these days.
Is it possible to get a real do-over in life? Thankfully, when we are forgiven, we are forgiven. God doesn’t say to us…”you always _____” or “remember how bad you messed up last time you tried that!” Thankfully, God’s word tells us in Psalm 103:12 that our sins will be as far from us as East is from West. David was relieved to hear the words of Nathan that his sin had been forgiven (2 Samuel 12:13). Our sins are remembered no more by God (Isaiah 43:25); even though they were scarlet, they are white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). There won’t be any YouTube videos of our mess-ups playing in heaven; rather, God forgives us completely!
So…what kind of people ought we to be? Perhaps more forgiving? Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to make fun? Perhaps we shouldn’t hold things against others? Perhaps we should forgive completely as God does?