The twentieth anniversary of 9/11 is a month behind us, but there are two circumstances from that time that haunt me to this day – twenty years and one month after 9/11.
On two different occasions in late 2000, two different Muslim men came to my office, separately. Each said he wanted to learn more about the Christian faith; turns out, they were more interested in proselytizing. They weren’t hostile; just zealous to place Allah on a higher pedestal than Jesus Christ.
A year later, on 9/11/2001, the world learned that some of those young Muslim terrorists who hijacked the planes had trained at flight schools at the Deer Valley Airport. This airport was located just two miles north of the church I served in Phoenix. Did I speak to one or two of those men? Believe me, I scanned the pictures of the terrorists to try to recall if that had been the case. It was and still is unclear. That haunts me to this day.
At the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003, I remember a dear Iraqi lady – maybe 50 years old – walking a couple miles to our church several times a week to just sit in our church in Phoenix to pray. She was concerned about siblings and relatives in the chaos that was Baghdad. She worried that she might never see loved ones again. What do we worry about? Traffic, Netflix not streaming properly, making it to the weekend, etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.
After six months or so, she stopped coming. I never heard from her again. I still wonder about her and her far-off loved ones.
In both cases, God’s Word was shared. The Word works, God tells us. He has plans. His ways are not our ways. The Word, God promises, achieves his purposes. We are merely mouthpieces to share the eternal truths of Law and Gospel, sin and grace. We may never know the end result of such Gospel-sharing this side of heaven. Lord, help us to be faithful in all of our interactions.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8-11 NIV)
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand