We had one foot in the Word, to be sure, but the other foot was firmly planted in the world. Yes, we loved Jesus, but we also very much loved the stuff He gave us. Sometimes we loved the stuff more than we loved our Savior. As I have said before, even the good gifts God gives us can become bad gifts when they become ultimate gifts. Jesus has clearly called us all to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,” (Mathew 6:33 NLT) and trust that He will supply us with all that we need for our daily sustenance. We were seeking God pretty well, but we were also scrambling to store up that sustenance!
God began calling us out of the physical wellness business into the spiritual wellness business very early in our walk with Him, but I simply wasn’t ready to answer His call. Kim was ready and had been ready for some time but not me. I couldn’t let it go. I believed if the business failed, I was a failure because my identity was in the business and not in the One who had given us the business.
I was at a Bible study on the morning of 9/11. When I returned home, I sat frozen in front of the television, witnessing the awful events of that fateful day. I remember being overwhelmed with the thought that none of those victims could possibly have known that this day was going to be their last day on earth. But it was. I also wondered how many of them did not know Jesus.
That day marked the end of the plans Kim and I had for our lives and the beginning of God’s plan for our lives. We closed the business less than two months later, and by the beginning of 2002, we had entered into full-time ministry work, expanding the kingdom of Christ rather than our own little kingdom.
Reasons to remember
There are many reasons for us to pause and remember 9/11. Perhaps one of the most profound reminders we should cling to is the brevity of life. Job mused that “We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear” (Job 14:2 NLT), and the Bible reminds us again and again that our days on this earth are few and fleeting. We are reminded of this truth each and every day by the news of the day and personal experience. Nobody knows when their life will end or how it will happen.
I think of the story Jesus told about a certain rich man who had enjoyed great success with his business. I confess to you today that in those BC (Before Christ) days of the early 90s, I was striving to be like this man! Jesus said this man was so pleased with the wealth he imagined that he had produced that he told himself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
And then come these chilling words from our Lord: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’” (Luke 12:19-20 NLT).
Since the fall of man in the Garden, death has been the debt we all must pay. When it comes suddenly and unexpectedly, it can rock us to our core. 9/11 did that to Kim and me; God used that awful event to light a fire of faith deep within us that would not go out. We realized that God had saved us to serve Him and to surrender our lives completely to His control. We had always understood the importance of the Good News of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, but after the day America was attacked we also understood the urgency with which we were called to share it—today because we may not have the opportunity to do it tomorrow.
On Sunday night in 1871, the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody was preaching at Farwell Hall in Chicago. Moody asked his congregation to spend the week thinking over their relationship with Jesus Christ and then return the following week and make their decisions for Him. That crowd never reassembled. As they were singing the closing hymn, the din of fire trucks and church bells scattered them forever; Chicago was on fire! The church and parsonage and much of the city were all destroyed in what you and I call the Great Chicago Fire. The lives of about 300 people were demanded of them that night.
Thinking back to that fateful evening, Moody remarked, “Giving my congregation a week to think over in their minds their decision for Jesus is my greatest regret in life. Never again would I give my listeners time to go home and think about their response to the Gospel.” And he never did.
And so I encourage you to go and do what our Lord has called us all to do: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Wherever you live, wherever you work or go to school, preach Christ. Never forget all that He has done for you, and never stop telling others the Good News He offers them.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that…Amen!
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.