As I came into the living room I saw Mom hugging Grandma, Dad buttoning up his LAPD uniform and strapping his gun to his hip, Grandpa just sitting in his arm chair—all crying and staring at footage of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. I didn’t know whether to to be more scared by the smoke, fire and screams coming from the TV, or by the fact that the four main adults in my life were scared too.
Mom and Dad recognized my presence when I tearfully asked, “what’s happening?!” They gave me a hug and explained that there were “bad guys trying to hurt people.” Soon I was tucked away in another room watching Mary Poppins and drinking hot cocoa—safely guarded from seeing any more disturbing images.
The next few years of my life were spent semi-oblivious to things going on in the outside world. It wasn’t until my later grammar school years that I started to put the pieces of that history together—to understand and know.
Wednesday Morning, September 11th, 2013
I woke up to the sound of my obnoxious cellphone alarm. The old wood from my bunk bed gently creaked as I hopped to my bedroom floor. I turned off my alarm and began, along with millions of other Americans across this country, to remember…
…the terror, the pain, the death
…the heartbreak, the loss, the fear
…the instigators, the victims and the heroes of 9/11/01.
My heart aches as I bear the reality of evil—it is here and it is active. Acts of sheer terror like the events of 9/11 serve as a constant reminder of that undeniable fact.
I wish I could say that the world has changed for the better in the last 12 years. But it hasn’t. Innocent Syrians are being murdered in horrific ways through chemical warfare, millions of unborn children are being killed in the womb and human trafficking is continuing to spread across nations. Genocide, murder, rape, slavery—gut wrenchingly awful.
All of this causes me (as C.S. Lewis says in his essay Learning in War-Time) to“always answer the question, ““How can you be so frivolous and selfish to think about anything but the salvation of human souls? How is it right, or even psychologically possible, for creatures who are every moment advancing either to Heaven or to Hell to spend any fraction of the little time allowed them in this world on such comparative trivialities as literature or art, mathematics or biology.””
Life is frail and every second brings me a little closer to the end…and I spend most of my days studying, working so I can study, writing and reading every spare moment I get. It does not seem right. I should be on the street ministering every waking moment of my day, right?
Lewis, however, in the rest of his essay gives encouragement to Christians struggling with this question: “All our merely natural activities will be accepted, if they are offered to God, even the humblest, and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not. Christianity does not simply replace our natural life and substitute a new one; it is rather a new organization which exploits, to its own supernatural ends, these natural materials.”
When I read that little passage (and countless others in Lewis’ essay) I felt as if Jesus were reminding me that I am right where he wants me to be. I am studying, working and writing that I might grow and that I might better serve him. Along the way, I am ministering to the people within my sphere of influence. It is not useless.
As you observe the evil of this world, think on these things. My encouragement to you is from Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:15-17:
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”