On the morning of September 11, 2001, United Flight 93 took off from Newark’s Liberty International Airport bound for San Francisco. There were forty-four people on board, all of whom would lose their lives that day. Four terrorists took over the plane with the intention of flying it to the Washington DC area and crashing it into one of our government buildings or memorials. They very probably would have succeeded, except for the bravery of the passengers and crew onboard that day.
Recently, while preaching in a Faith Promise Missions Conference, the Pastor took the missionary families and me to visit the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. My mind and heart were deeply impressed by the selfless, courageous actions taken by those who were on board and lost their lives that day while attempting to take back control of the airplane from the terrorists. The heartbreaking messages of love from wives, mothers, and husbands to their families were testament to their concern for their loved ones, while they themselves were in absolute jeopardy. The memorial is a wonderful aid that causes us to remember their bravery and devotion.
As I stood at the spot looking over the site of the crash (pictured above), God brought three simple thoughts to mind.
1. We Do Not Know What Tomorrow Holds
Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.—Proverbs 27:1
I know that is an elementary statement; but I fear it is a truth we often know, but too often fail to appropriate into our decision-making and lifestyles as believers. We are not guaranteed a tomorrow. We are not to live in abject fear that we may die at any moment, but we are to live with a healthy reverence that at any moment we could leave this life, or Jesus could return. What life-altering truths those statements are! God is not only to be in our planning, He is to have authority over our planning; and His glory is to be the object in every decision and direction for our lives.
2. There Are Times and Events That Are Bigger than Our Convenience and Our Comfort
We live in a self-oriented and self-interested world. Just peruse social media for the proof of that statement. Many believers operate with the sense that God exists for the purpose of making their lives good. But we must be reminded that we, in truth, exist to bring God glory! There are times when life delivers us circumstances that are more than difficult: they can appear to be tragic.
Certainly, the loss of life in this horrific act of terrorism was senseless and a terrible source of suffering for the families of those lost and for our nation. However, in that loss, the people on that plane revealed to us that human beings can respond to a crisis with a strength and ability that can only be explained by the grace of God. They set aside their own feelings and the sense of their own loss to serve a greater good, stopping that plane from being used as an instrument of war against their nation. Who knows how many other lives were saved because of their selflessness that day in giving their lives for a cause bigger than their own survival?
The songwriter penned these words in America the Beautiful: “O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!” We need to be believers who love our God more than our own lives, and serve His cause more than our own.
3. God Will Mark Our Service and Sacrifice
I am thankful for the Flight 93 Memorial and the way it serves to remind us of those who lost their lives on that terrible day. But in truth, most believers who serve the Lord selflessly for His glory will not have an earthly memorial built in honor of their devotion. God does note their service, however, and He will reward the faithful servant! What a day it will be, when the selfless servant of God hears, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
May God help us strive to be Flight 93 believers: Making God the priority of our plans, making His glory the object of our living, and leaving the reward for our service to Him.