It was a late morning. I was still in my pj’s sitting with a cup of coffee watching Fox news. The Martin house was my temporary home at the time. Shane was an old friend and my new boss as I was early in my ministry at Green Run Baptist Church. Within a few months I would be married to the love of my life and in a home we could call our own. But on this morning, the morning of September 11th, 2001, time stood still. Everything else faded into the background as I watched, first with curiosity, as images showed a mysterious fire on one of the towers of the World Trade Center. My curiosity turned to disbelief then to horror as the reality of what was happening unfolded on the screen in from of me.
Death is an enemy with many faces. Some see death as a weapon to be wielded against the weak. Some see it as a tool for revenge. Some run toward it as the great escape from reality while others flee from it as the stealer of their dreams. History is filled with one long relentless pursuit to control or conquer death. Whether it is the one-day murder of 3000 men and women in the name of Allah or the daily murder of 3000 boys and girls in the name of convenience, this bitter enemy rose from the depths of a rebellious humanity. In seeking life apart from God they became slaves to death. An unconquerable enemy was born in the garden that day.
The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us that”there is a time for everything.” Rising and falling, tragedy and triumph, sorrow and joy, all have their proper place in this life. We accept their existence, but only the Christian can see them rightly. Solomon goes on to say that “He [God] makes everything beautiful in its time.” As death came into the garden so did the promise that one day death itself would die. While humanity was helpless against it, God Himself would be clothed in humanity and give Himself over to death. Only through death was resurrection possible. Only through a seed dying could the garden begin to grow again. Jesus Christ conquered sin and death for His people. Now the sting of death has become the sweetness of resurrection. Because of Christ the Christian neither fears death nor finds refuge in it. Our refuge and strength is God Himself to whom death has become a defeated foe and reluctant servant.
Today we remember the dads, moms, friends, neighbors, co-workers, husbands, and wives who were taken from us at the hands of evil men. Today we weep with those who weep. Today we as Christians should be sorrowful yet always rejoicing. God makes everything beautiful in its time. The beauty of resurrection will rise out of the ashes of a world made ugly by sin and death. Through the first Adam death came into paradise. Through the second Adam paradise comes through death.
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)