The shadow of the World Trade Center was welcome relief for the businessman, his coat and tie oppressive in the summer heat. Beyond the walls and wrought iron fence of St. Paul’s Chapel, quick-footed New Yorkers sidestepped tourists who paused to openly gaze at the towering buildings.
But in the quiet of the historic churchyard, the finely dressed gentleman — a CEO, perhaps — was alone in his noontime thoughts. Head bent slightly, he sat upon the aged stone bench, a Bible with its delicate pages open in his hand.
The sight was incongruous with my impression of Manhattan; a professional spending his lunch hour in closeness with God. Yet, it was that picture I held close in my heart the day the twin towers fell — and even now.
Who could have imagined that five years later on a sunlit morning, life would change for America? Airplanes commandeered by terrorists, invincible buildings disintegrating floor by floor, lives shattered like the glass and twisted steel — much coming to rest in the churchyard nearby.
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Unthinkable. Unbelievable. Until 9/11.
In the days leading up to the inconceivable many of us believed the blessed life we led was guaranteed. Twelve years later, I’m reminded once again to ask myself these questions:
Do I thank God with a grateful heart and draw close to him during untroubled times? Or do I feel self-sufficient, no room in my busyness to study the scriptures or listen in the quiet for his voice? My answers are often found wanting.
So, on this day of remembrance, I think back to my poignant memory of the summer afternoon in 1996. A man, Bible in hand, who had more than a “New York minute” to spend with God in the shadow of the World Trade Center.
I reflect on his example of faith. A faith that reassures me that “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 (NLT)