Unless a person had completely ignored the media over the past week or so, there were two specific events that occurred that captured our attention. The first occurred last Friday when the world got the news that the Queen of England had died. After a reign of over 70 years, Elizabeth II, at 96 years of age, has finally crossed over the threshold of eternity. The second event is the commemoration of the 21st anniversary of the 9-11 catastrophe.
Perhaps because both of these occurred on the weekend, when life seems to take a break from the normal, hectic pace that seems to captivate so many of our work-week schedules, it seemed that there was a tremendous amount of attention given to both of these commemorations. It may just be me, but I could not seem to turn to any television channel (except for the Ohio State football game on Saturday) in which the commentators were not waxing eloquent on one of these two subjects.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not objecting to the devotion of the time spent on either of them. In fact, one of the main thrusts of both of these news items seemed to be “Lest We Forget…” In fact, in our neighborhood, where we have only known each other for a few short years, the main conversations, after our health and doctor’s appointments schedules (those are common topics here), have centered around one of those two news stories.
In recalling the events of 9-11, I spent a couple of hours this weekend watching and listening to the documentaries designed to help us remember and recall the events of that day in New York City. Most of the stories begin with the recollection of survivors or the reminiscences of those who lost loved ones in those tragedies. There is no one who remembers that event who does not recall at some point in any conversation about that event where they were when they heard about it and what they were doing.
One very powerful documentary about that day was a filmed diary, a life in the day of account, of the daily lives of the firefighters in a fire station that was one of the closest to the World Trade Center on that day. How those men in that station rallied to rush to the scene of what they did not know was indeed a powerful statement of their dedication and commitment to saving lives.
One of the overarching messages of that documentary was that each of those firefighters charged into that building with no regard for whom they were trying to save. They each had in mind what then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called the motivation from God. He said, “No matter what you and I may have thought before that day, one of the things I’ve learned through this whole experience is that God does not discriminate. He does not show preferences… He wants us to value every human life the way He does.”
One person who knew that intimately was Queen Elizabeth II. From the very beginning of her reign she expressed a faith in God upon whom she was dependent to help her serve as queen. That is not to say she did not have periods of questioning and doubt. However, during those times she diligently consulted with various religious leaders regarding her faith. On at least 13 occasions she met with evangelist Billy Graham, beginning in 1955 when he was conducting one of his crusades in Glasgow, Scotland. According to his autobiography, “Just As I Am”, on several of those occasions he shared with her the simple Gospel message that (1.) all have sinned, (2.) the wages of sin is death, (3.) Christ died to save sinners, and (4.) each individual must trust Christ in order to be saved.
Her response to those words was very favorable. She even declared as recently as 2014 that “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace … is an inspiration and anchor to my life.”
If these two events — the tragedy of 9-11 and the death of the beloved queen — have taught us anything, it is that the world you and I live in is falling apart before our eyes. We should not lose our memories of these too soon. We are placed here by God to make a difference. We are God’s only representatives on the planet and simply cannot take time to pick and choose who needs help. They all need help. They all need the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. They all need to be rescued from the horror of an eternity apart from God.
Every day as we awake, we should offer one simple prayer: “God, I’m here for you to use as you will. What’s the next step that you want me to take? Won’t you help me?”
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor who now resides in Florida. He can be reached at [email protected].