Summary: Sometimes something happens that is so startling that it opens your eyes to what was there, but hidden, and it forever changes the world!
I remember it like it was just a few moments ago. It was a beautiful clear, sunny Tuesday morning and I had a meeting with Jay and Colette about their mission work in Poland.
Jay came running into my office and told me to look on the internet because something big was happening in New York City. We caught glimpses of what was happening between moments when the internet actually stalled with too much activity. That’s the first time I remember the internet stalling. None of us could believe what we were witnessing.
My next most vivid memory was of walking home that day and not seeing or hearing one single plane in the sky. Planes are usually background sound. You see them up there in the sky and often don’t even notice, but when there are absolutely no planes anywhere, their absence is profound. It was truly an end of the world kind of feeling that I didn’t shake for a long time afterwards. Then there are times, like today, when the feeling comes back and I am reliving the feelings and the fears of that awful day.
Today marks the tenth anniversary of events that were so shocking and so life-changing that we just have to utter the date 9-11 and everyone knows and feels and remembers the events to which we are referring.
Before 9-11 terrorism was, at most, a headline buried in the world section of the newspaper or it was merely a brief news feature in the five minute overview of international news in our nightly news broadcasts. Terrorism is what happened somewhere else—to someone else. If Americans or Canadians ever became the victim of terrorism, it was because they were travelling abroad to some volatile spot in the world. Now terrorism, or at least dealing with the possibility and the threat of terrorism, is a part of everyone’s reality. In one way, shape, or form, terrorism has impacted every one of our lives.
On Friday, the Discovery Channel’s ‘Daily Planet’ Science magazine had a special episode dealing with the things we have learned since 9-11. There have been studies. There have been investigations. There have been inventions to aid emergency workers and changes in building codes and construction methods to make sure that any future terrorist event will never have the same measure of success it did on that morning ten years ago.
All you have to do is look at the changes in building design between the twin towers that fell and the new 1 World Trade Tower that is presently being built. Those who designed the 1 World Trade Tower designed it to withstand suicide car bombings at its base. It has been designed to withstand the crash of a fully
fuelled jet airliner and more. The elevators will now go up and down 110 floors in less than 30 second and they will even learn to do that faster as their computers constantly monitor elevator use and fine-tune movements according to usage patterns. The entire tower is actually surrounded with concrete and it also has a concrete core that protects the stairways. Never before has there been a building like this in the world and what makes this building different than any other are the things we learned from what happened in 9-11.
One of the problems for the fire department during 9-11 was that the radio repeater stations failed in the towers so the firemen on the ground could not communicate with the firemen on the higher floors. New regulations and radio improvements have removed that problem.
Before 9-11 no one was trained to handle the extreme circumstances of an event as large as a building collapse brought on by natural or man-made disaster. Now there is a training facility designed to give first-response people the hands on, practical, real-world training to make them effective in what has to be one of the most stressful, emotional, and disorienting situations anyone can be asked to work in.
Airports have change. Air travel has changed. The way we look at an unattended suitcase or a backpack in a mall or on a street corner has changed. Life is different. Why? Because in the matter of an hour or two, the events of 9-11 opened our eyes to what had always been possible, but for one reason or another, it was never really imagined as part of our North American experience.
On September 11th, 2001 all of our eyes were opened to a different world that we had never seen before and we are forever changed.
As you turn there let me give you the context. In Matthew 16 we have a couple of very important events. First, we have Peter’s good confession. You’ll remember that when Jesus asks who people think that he is, Peter mentions various possibilities like John the Baptist or Elijah, or one of the other prophets. Then Jesus asks Peter his own opinion on His identity and Peter says: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” (Matthew 16:16). This is kind of a big moment, don’t you think? Peter knows who Jesus is! In fact Jesus declares that Peter’s knowledge had come from a text message directly from God.