When the phone rang and I heard the voice of James Owens on the other end, no alarm bells rang. James had been working diligently, also...he was doing all he could to make the conference a success from the technical end. But his voice sounded a little funny...."Ummmm....have you heard anything?" "No, about what?" "About the twin towers?" "No...what?" "A plane just flew into one of them."
To be honest, my first thought was "Why did he call me about this? This is really bad...I hate it...but I'm about to see him at the church..." I didn't grasp the magnitude of it. I said that was terrible and those poor people and I'm going to see what's online about it...and hung up.
Five minutes later, he called back and said the second tower had just been hit.
Something started churning then in the pit of my stomach...
When I got to the church, the towers began to fall. We were horrified...we were mesmerized...it was hard to put one foot in front of the other and hard to think and impossible to process.
Should we cancel the conference? Should we continue? I just wanted to go get my kids from school and hide in my house. The calls started coming in. Air traffic was grounded...hundreds of preachers wives were stranded in airports...some were caught in the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City...what to do? The decision was made to carry on for those who could get here....
Through the years, we've heard stories from so many of the women who were en route and became stranded and stuck in crazy places across the United States. One preacher's wife went through the Atlanta, Georgia airport and gathered up everybody she could find that looked like they might be traveling to the conference...they got together and rented a van and drove the remaining 12 hours, arriving at the end of the first night's events. Some turned back...all they wanted to do was to get to their husbands and children and hug everybody close. Some said they felt they HAD to get here.
Did we do the right thing by continuing the conference? I don't know. It totally drained us, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It took us weeks to recover. But testimonies from those who came have been incredible. They still ask if we will ever do it again. They were strengthened and encouraged...
Isn't it amazing? This incredible world-changing event...and we talk about where WE were, what WE were doing, and how it affected OUR lives. We want to personalize it. We want to make it part of who WE are. We want to become a player in the drama. Not so much that we are hurt or suffer, but we want to share in the impact of the event...we want to emerge unscathed, but we want the world to know that we participated.
Is that why Christianity sometimes seems so shallow in the lives of some people?
The cross was a major event. The resurrection was a major event. Pentecost was a major event. The life of a Christ-follower is major. Here I am. Pick me. I believe. I'm a part. I don't want to hurt...or suffer...or lose any part of my life in the process...but I'm participating!
What does it really mean to remember 9-11?
What does it really mean to remember His death?