Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Remembering 9/11

Ground Zero 4
Originally uploaded by Abode of Chaos.

"...deliver them who through fear of death were all their lives subject to bondage" Hebrews 2:15

I spent my whole afternoon in Davao airport yesterday. Flew there early morning for a meeting. The meeting ended early but my return flight was not until 6:45pm. So I tried to rebook for an earlier schedule. But because my ticket was bought on a discounted rate, I had to pay additional charges of over a thousand. I opted to stay and wait for my original schedule.

It was a welcome wait though. I've learned waiting could also be good, literally and figuratively. It gives me time to just slow down and silently talk to God.

Yesterday was 5th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. I still remember the live coverage on TV. It was like seeing an action movie. Only, the reporter was frantically mumbling her report on the verge of tears.

What happened to the World Trade Center was just unthinkable. Who would have ever imagined such attacks could happen to America? Suddenly, the superpower, the giant, became so vulnerable and weak in the face of the world.

It made me think about our own vulnerabilities. Sometimes we feel so strong, so in control...

But think about taking plane rides. We are all just passengers, far from being in control of our fates. Surely, those passengers of the ill-fated planes maneuvered by terrorists never imagined they would end-up in another destination -- eternity, that is.

I used to be so afraid of taking plane rides, or more aptly, dying in a plane crash. Close family friends died in plane crashes. Early on in my career as reporter, I've covered two or three plane crashes. I've interviewed families of victims and not one of them were prepared for the suddenness of the deaths of their loved ones, not even the victims themselves.

But God does find ways of reassuring us that we can truly rest in Him. And what better way He takes away our fears than making us conquer the very things we fear, death included. One day when I was still a reporter, I had to take a 4-seater Cesna plane with my photographer partner so we could take a closer view of a controversial island I was to write about. And I thought taking an Asian Spirit plane earlier that week was already the worse thing I had to face!

Our newspaper sent us to the Visayas to write on a brewing controversy that time. To my consternation, I found out that we could not cross to the island by boat because the waves were just too big. We had no other recourse but take a small plane. (Only a few days earlier, the governor of Palawan died of crash and you guessed it right, he was on a Cesna plane.)

There was no way I would back out from an assignment. Not when I was already so close to the story. But all through out the ride, I was silently praying, wrestling with God like Jacob. I was telling Him, "God, surely You have great plans for me. You will not let me perish in this small plane." Then I remembered how Abraham negotiated with God to spare Lot and his family from the imminent punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Abraham's conversations with God kept on ringing in my mind. "If you find 100 righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah, will you spare it?"1 Abraham asks God. And God assured Abraham, "If only for those 100 people, I will not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah." Then the number went smaller and smaller until it reached just 10.

It makes me laugh everytime I remember my own conversations with God that time. I know I wasn't righteous, I still am not. But I know God loves me and I am special to Him. So I claimed His promise in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."2

Surely, God has great plans for me. I just know that the moment I read that passage. I have claimed it ever since. That's the best thing about being a child of God. My Father is rich beyond imagination, and so is my inheritance.

After a few shots and circles around the island, we headed on to Manila. It was the longest one-hour in my life. The ride was bumpy because small planes can't go up too high. I found out that winds are stronger on the lower altitude. But the moment I set my foot on Manila's domestic terminal, I was forever changed.

I became so sure that when it is not yet your time, no matter what happens, God will spare you.

It's good to be vulnerable to some extent. God makes us realize our vulnerabilities so that we will always depend on Him, the Pilot of our lives.

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