I was in Harrisonburg, Virginia, holding a gospel meeting for the Central congregation. In the mornings, I was putting finishing touches on lessons on the Conquest through Divided Kingdom which I would be teaching the next week in Coimbatore, India. That was what I was doing on Tuesday morning while Kathy took our small sons, ages 7, 5, and 3, to a nearby park to play. Just before 9 A.M., I had the door of our hotel room open when a tearful hotel maid in broken English told me to turn on the TV, that it was very bad news. It was Matt and Katie on the Today Show, breaking the awful story of a plane crash. Then, a second plane hit and it was immediately apparent that this was no accident. While the word “surreal”—bizarre, like a dream—is overused, the events of 9-11 fit the definition. Suddenly, things changed.
My mission trip to India would ultimately be cancelled, as we were scheduled to leave from Reagan International. The mood during our gospel meeting changed. There was a change, an increase, in spirituality in the hours and day or two which followed as evidenced even in normally irreverent late night television. The nation was on high alert, gripped by fear, as three of our landmarks were struck by terrorists and a fourth was spared only after heroic efforts of passengers on a plane over western Pennsylvania.
But more fundamentally, plans for 2,996 people were most permanently changed. That many people who woke up alive on September 11, 2001, would die in the terrorist attacks. This included people in the World Trade Center, Pentagon, four commercial airplanes, and emergency responders. Only God knows how many of them were prepared for death, but no doubt only the hijackers knew that death was about to come for them.
Before and after 9/11, large numbers of people died in airplane crashes, building fires, and other sudden tragedies. More than 150,000 people in the world have their plans permanently changed by the coming of death. Matthew 7:13-14 would indicate that the vast majority of them are unprepared for death. Someday, death will change our plans. Thanks to Jesus’ death, if we have obeyed Him and serve Him faithfully, our death will mean changing from temporal pain to eternal peace. Do your plans include Jesus?