I’m sitting at my kitchen table on the morning of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. It was exactly 20 years ago that I was at work. At the time I was living north of Atlanta, but that day would find me down in Tampa on a business trip, setting up computers in a new office space for my then-employer. I was 30 years old. Me and my coworker were crawling over and under desks cabling up computers and monitors. We had a lot of work to do that day.
No sooner had we gotten started and we heard the early news reports. Something strange was going on. New York was under attack. Now Washington D.C. Something something something. Pentagon… Before day’s end we were both lined up at the local blood bank to donate a pint of help. In the ensuing days we would have to rent a car to drive 7 hours home since all the flights were grounded. The skies were eerily empty that day we drove home. The whole nation felt that way.
The phrase NEVER FORGET became attached to the events of 9/11 almost immediately, it seems. In truth, I have forgotten. I don’t remember much about that day anymore. I remember standing by a water retention pond near the hotel and calling my mother in New Jersey to see how family was up there. (Back in those days I called her daily since she was in the last stages of the cancer that would take her life four months later.) I remember watching the second tower fall on a big TV in a nearby hotel lobby, at least I think I do. Maybe it was one of the constant replays that day. I remember the blood bank and the drive home days later. Those are most of my memories, and I’m no longer even sure of some of them.
Despite the many posts on Facebook I’m seeing, I don’t think I’m alone. I think many people have forgotten. Oh sure, many remember the events of 9/11, but they’ve forgotten God. For weeks, maybe months after 9/11 churches were packed. But then that quieted down. Slowly, although life would never be the same, life returned to new-normal. And once again, the Lord was in none of our national thoughts.
Asa: A Warning in Two Acts
In 2 Chronicles 16, the writer records the last years of Judah’s King Asa. King Asa’s earlier years were ones of faithfulness to the Lord, “Asa,” the inspired writer tells us, “did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God,” (14:2). When the Cushites attacked Asa and the people of Judah “with a vast army” (v 9), Asa knew he and his army were about to be crushed by their attacker.
Rather than make the mistake of alliances with other nations to come to their aid, Asa did the right thing and turned to the Lord. “Lord,” he prayed, “there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you…O LORD, You are our God” (v 11). Asa called on the Lord and He brought an impossible and mighty deliverance.
Fast-forward some years later. In the 36th year of his reign, Asa and Judah are once again besieged, this time by the northern kingdom of Israel, their own kin. Only instead of turning to the Lord again, Asa foolishly empties the Temple of the Lord of its gold and silver, and gives them to Ben-Hadad king of Aram in Damascus to come to Judah’s defense.
Asa lost his way through folly and apostasy, and the Lord sent the prophet Hanani (16:7-9) to pronounce judgment. Despite the great words of comfort and hope that, “the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him,” the prophet speaks the words of God in declaring to Asa, “You have done a foolish thing…”
Rather than humble himself and repent, Asa doubled-down on his wickedness. He threw Hanani in prison and “brutally oppressed” some of his own subjects. And when the Lord sent a terrible disease in Asa’s feet, “even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD,” (12).
Twenty Years On
And now, here we are. I’ll leave it for historians to write about the years after 9/11, but if you were alive then, you know. Bush. Cheney. Rumsfeld. Rice. Powell. Iraq. Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda. Taliban. Hussein. Bin Laden. The Patriot Act. Airport body scanners. Shoes off. Belts off. Freedom Tower. Globalists. Obama. Recession. Obama again. Trump. COVID-19. Biden. Afghanistan. Taliban 2.0.
The truth is: I’m not overly concerned with the politics today. I’m concerned about what really matters: the eternal, the moral and spiritual aspects of where we’re at today as a nation.
Twenty years ago America briefly left its perversions and went to church. It got religion (often infused with patriotism, which in degrees is not necessarily a bad thing), but soon went back to its old ways. And then it went further.
Now we have a whole distorted alphabet of sexual sins. We’ve gone from one rainbow flag to multiple varieties of them. (It’s interesting that even all of those groups can’t unite under a single banner.) And as a nation we even fly the rainbow flag at our embassies around the world. And it’s everywhere on TV and the Internet. And it’s in many professing evangelical churches.
This new deformed and constricted alphabet has altered the words we speak and the thoughts we are allowed to think. Traditional pronouns are verboten, replaced by an endless mashup of meaningless vowels and consonants to reflect one’s gender, genders, or non-binary, gender fluid, or no gender at all, self-identification. Whatever all that means; I don’t think the people who use this new-speak even know. How can they? Truth, like Hanani, was thrown in prison long ago.
It’s not just sexual stuff. It’s everything. All this linguistic contortion has also warped our logic. (Warped logic may be the only thing that actually does makes sense: Without absolute truths in morality or science, there are no more boundaries on anything.) Men can have periods, and if they miss, it’s because they’re pregnant, since we all know now that it’s not only women who get pregnant. Everyone has the potential to be a “birthing person” now. Imagine that 20 years ago.
And if said person doesn’t want to be a “birthing person” well, they still have the Choice to kill. It’s been so long since 9/11 that America can now own that it has murdered yet another generation in its abortion “clinics.” Last week I saw an article with a woman proudly wearing a t-shirt that told how many abortions she’s had (it was something like 17).
It used to be beauty was in the eye of the beholder, but now we are all subject to horrific perversions of God’s created order of beauty, everywhere around us in our culture. Nothing is sacred. Everything is profane. And that’s just the way they want it. And we know they’re not finished yet.
Twenty Years from Now
When the angels came to get Lot and his family out of Sodom, after the angels struck the city’s men blind, they were still clawing at Lot’s house to try to find the door, so they could break it down and have sex with his guests. America’s pervasion isn’t there yet, but it sure seems to be getting close. Or maybe it’s just more sophisticated, accomplished online and helplessly trafficked through highway rest stops. I don’t know.
What I do know is that America, like King Asa, is undeniably afflicted by the Lord. We are clearly under some form of judgment. And like Asa, we have doubled-down in our sin and rebellion. The writer of Chronicles could write of America today, “even in his illness, he did not seek help from the LORD.”
Asa died and was buried in the forty-first year of his reign. After his burial “they made a huge fire in his honor,” (14). I’ve spent nearly an hour and a half reflecting and writing this. The biggest thing I think about today is: How long until the Lord determines that America’s time on earth, like Asa’s, is up. America looks almost unrecognizable from 20 year ago. I was thirty then, and fifty now. What will America look like if the Lord lets things unravel for another twenty years? I’ll be 70 then. I might be around, but will the United States?
Today I pray for those who lost loved ones on 9/11, and for all those who lost loved ones in the wars that followed. But above all I pray for revival. Not a neo-religious-patriotism, a flag-waving display of American Cultural Christianity. No, we don’t need anymore of that! Pray for the Lord to have mercy on this lawless, God-forgetting land. Pray for Him to raise up a remnant of people who are struck low by a reverent fear of the Lord, who are broken by their sin, who cry out to Jesus to save them, who declare Him Lord and Master and King, and are willing to follow Him regardless of where culture or country goes, for His eternal glory.
Of all that Americans remember today, may we remember and return to the Lord.