On Saturday, we will be remembering the most tragic of events on American soil ever to take place: 9/11. I remember it like it was yesterday. Nine years ago, I was very pregnant, a Christian School Chaplain, and had an out-of-work husband. I remember walking back to my office when a student came running to me, claiming there were planes crashing into buildings in New York... How we set up rabbit ears with the VCR in the church sanctuary (where the school had its weekly chapel services), and we sat, as a school, and watched on the big projection screen as the second tower spilled down into the city below... I remember hearing how the Pentagon was also targeted, and thought about how only a few short days before this attack, my own father--and hundreds of other local politicians from around the country--were walking the halls of that “fortress”... I remember the counseling that took place... The lives forever changed... How hard it was for my husband to find a job... The list goes on.
So now there is talk of a Mosque being built near Ground Zero. Of course, where there is talk of this nature, there is exponentially more controversy, swarming like an angry legion of hornets. I don’t--nor will I ever--claim to be an authority on most things political. I don’t claim to be someone who is fit to comment or advise on anything government-related. What I do proclaim, though, is that I am born again, filled with the Holy Spirit, and can only testify to these things which I know to be true. Many will question my statement, saying, how do I know these things to be true? Well, my response can only be answered with a question. How do you know you are breathing air with an appropriate amount of oxygen? Well, for one thing, you’re not dying. You’re not gasping for breath. You are, in fact, very much alive, and feel right. “How I know” is something that is a gift. Like the air we breathe. When someone receives the gift of faith, that person is forever changed. Okay, back to the topic...
Many people who have weighed in on this controversy have done so very boldly, opposing anything having to do with Muslims. People are acting out of pain and fear: pain they still feel from this near decade-long injury, and fear that it--or worse--may happen again. We, as Americans, have been injured.
No living thing takes to injury very well. Think about a dog who maybe has his foot caught in a trap. When a compassionate soul happens upon such a situation, that typically kind-natured animal will lash out, trying to attack its would-be savior. Most often the victim is so inwardly focused that anything external seems threatening. Snapping violently at the hand that could help is a natural tendency. And natural as it may be, what it truly is is selfish. This is not to say that “selfish” is a nasty term; sometimes the pain is so excruciating there is no seeing past it by ourselves. This means looking only at your pain and doing everything in your power to at the very least, maintain the status quo. It means not looking out to anyone or anything for help. It means festering. It ultimately means loss.
While there is something to be said about pain and suffering, there is also much to be said about peace and love--God’s love. As someone who is striving daily to inherit the love that is God while still here on this earth, I had a revelation today. I would like to share it now, as an illustration of the bigger picture, whether that is in response to a proposed Mosque in New York, a homeless person in a small town no one has ever heard of, or within your own family.
I was driving through my city today, running various errands that took me through some of the more colorful, or interesting areas that I don’t normally see. I began looking at the many people out and about on this windiest of days. I watched: a young man rushing across a street to the nearest liquor store--his long hair whipping across most of his face; an old woman with missing teeth, extremely outdated glasses and a filthy jacket standing idly while waiting for a city bus; a long line of school children processing from the museum downtown; the librarian, watching an obviously drunken man checking out a book; a family taking a walk along Lake Michigan.
While driving, I was listening to a sampler CD playing Kim Walker’s “How He Loves Us,” and two other songs. As the time ticked by, the CD kept rotating these three songs, and the words became overwhelming to me. I am a singer. I sing in the car, like many people do, I admit it. But today, as I was singing, I realized something. I was singing this song with the greatest passion for all of these people. As I sang the words over them, this tremendous love for each of them exploded from my heart. I realized that most of the time when I have talked or sung about God’s love, I have been thinking of His love as for only those of us who call ourselves Christians. (As I write this, I can’t get past what I have just declared. I am floored.)
“Oh, how He loves us, oh, oh, how He loves us, how He loves us, oh.”
God looks down on every individual here on this life-sustaining planet and calls out,
“I... LOVE... YOU!”
It is for this reason that we, as born again believers are here, in this place, to reach out and send that love in the most tangible of ways to the ones who have not yet received this gift. Oh, how He loves US ALL.
So regardless of brick and mortar and what it could stand for, what we do in response to anything should be this: love. Micah 6:8 says it best: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
We must remember that this is not God’s heaven. This is sin-infested earth. It was tainted by the fall, and will not reach perfection until Jesus brings it about. And whether a Mosque is built close to Ground Zero or not is irrelevant in the grand scheme of eternity. Is it insensitive? Yes, I believe so. Will many people lash out, like the wounded creature that they are? Yes again. But how will we, as those called by Christ, act at that point? Will we stand beside them, shaking our fists in the air, and perpetuating hate, or will be be the ones standing there, not ashamed to say, “Look, I know the pain you’re in, but I know a GREAT Physician,” move in boldly, and remove the paw from the trap.