I’m just going to come right out and say that today’s post is totally about September 11th. I’m a pretty big football fan and being the first weekend of the season, I wasn’t about to miss a minute of action if I could help it. Another thing I couldn’t miss was the tribute the NFL paid to the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Over the past several days, I haven’t been able to help myself but to keep wrestling with the tribute itself as well as my thoughts on the decade past.

I have to say, the tribute sponsored by the NFL before the Jets vs. Cowboys game was absolutely moving. I was in tears throughout, only stifled by my awareness of my father’s presence on the couch next to me. The message delivered by Robert De Niro was well written and the playing of Amazing Grace instantly threw whatever composure I had left right over the large falls of my heart. It was absolutely beautiful and I believe it was an appropriate offering of gratitude to those who died that day. Within an instant, this pristine moment was ruined.

I love this country and feel more than blessed to have lived my entire life here, but the chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” that followed utterly ruined the moment. While September 11th was undeniably an attack on the United States of America and we as a country lost a lot on that day and as a result of that day, I find it truly has little to do with our country. If we are to keep our focus on such a minute piece of the greater whole, then we choose ignorance and miss the grander, infinitely more beautiful picture on display.

Keeping the focus on our country, I see a lot of ugliness ten years later. I see a country gripped with fear and hatred. I see paranoia. I see helplessness and desperation. No, I don’t see much good coming from those events of ten years ago. We as a nation have merely mourned our dead and waged a shadow war on terrorism using the very tactics we despise. As a country, we are hypocrites looking down on other nations when we prove constantly we are no better than they. I understand there are things I’m overlooking here, but please bear with me.

I don’t know about you, but this outlook doesn’t sit well with me at all and so I’m forced to look elsewhere. In this search, I had to recognize that God was still sovereign on September 11th ten years ago. I’ve seen that He’s had a purpose in all of this, but what precisely that is I’m not sure. However, I do know that He does have a purpose in all this and I know He is good. This should say something and indeed it does.

C.S. Lewis said that pain is God’s megaphone, grabbing our attention when His gentle whispers cannot. September 11th definitely got our attention, but have we really learned anything as a result? Honestly, I don’t know, but here are some thoughts.

First, life is fleeting. We don’t have time to waste, because we don’t know when our lives will be required of us. We don’t know for sure the sun will rise in the morning. I don’t know if anyone will ever read this post. We don’t need to be panicked, but we need to live with an urgency and a purpose. We were designed to live this way.

All things on this earth are fleeting, but love which is from God will never die. The greatest power in this universe is love. We all know this deep down, but it is so easy to leave buried beneath a world of haste and stress. The Beatles were right when they said that love is all we need. They were merely paraphrasing Jesus when He said the greatest command was to love God and love our neighbors. But, how much of a priority is this for us?

Lastly, to keep this brief, this life was never meant to be lived solely beneath the sun. We are so contented with the futility and tension inherent in this existence, but there is far more to be had if we only take a moment each day and stop solely living in the physical realm. It’s only then that we can see all the good that God is doing and has done through the more than ten years now since September 11th. God has brought so much beauty into this world by drawing people to Himself, but this doesn’t translate on the physical or national levels. Life lived for God reveals the true silver lining of the attacks. The most evil of intentions used in spite of themselves for the ultimate good. This is beautiful.

You may disagree, but September 11th did little, if any, good for this country. We awoke briefly from a complacent slumber, but sunk back into a paranoia-induced coma. September 11th was never meant to be about this country. It was never meant to be about anything on this earth. Instead, the attacks were about what the rest of history has been pointing us towards. God’s grace, mercy and glory are all too evident now, just as they were ten years ago. You simply need to know where to look and it isn’t in the American flag. It’s in the cross; in the blood shed two milennia ago so that we could be freed from all this once and for all. Ten years after September 11th, are we living as free Americans or just Americans?