Seventeen years ago this week, life changed. Do you remember when you could go all the way to the departure gate of the airport to say goodbye to someone going out of town? Do you remember going to a ball game or a national park without having to walk through a metal detector?
This year, Sept. 11 fell on Tuesday again. In 2001, on that fateful Tuesday morning, I was sitting in a restaurant in metro Detroit eating breakfast with a group of fellow pastors. The owner of the place came running to the back room where we gathered and urged us to pray. “They are attacking us,” he exclaimed. Confused and concerned, we all gathered around the 13-inch black and white TV to watch.
I remember that schools released early that day, all after school activities were cancelled, and we continued to watch the coverage through the week. I was scheduled to go on a mission trip to Siberia to lead a pastor’s conference ten days later. It, too, was cancelled.
On Friday of that week, we were encouraged to gather for worship and prayer, and on that Sunday we had the largest attendance we had for that year, exceeding both Easter and Mother’s Day. We were a desperate people, searching for answers. Many turned to the Lord, briefly.
The fact is that within a month, church attendance had returned to normal, and very few radical changes were made in the spiritual life of our nation.
It has been said through the years that there are no atheists in foxholes. Many people reach out to the Lord in times of trouble and crisis. But in everyday life we keep going alone. There are many people who believe in God, but live as “practical atheists.” By that I mean their lives reflect neither dependence on nor commitment to him.
Again, the truth is simple. If there is a God, then he is deserving of our worship and service. In the Old Testament, Joshua challenged his people with these words. “Choose this day whom you will serve.” And Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters.”
We’re all serving someone. Whom are you serving?