World Trade Center, Psalm 23
How many times since the events of September 11, 2001 have you seen or heard the words "it was a perfectly normal day?" It seems that we were all going about our normal business that morning, only to be shocked, saddened, and enraged by the enemy's attack on our country. Over the past weekend, as I realized that today was the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, I started thinking about the people who died that day. Their day started like a normal day, too. Men and women got up that morning and showered as usual, maybe had a quick bite to eat on the way out the door or stopped at a coffee shop on the way to work. They had plans for that night or later that week. School was back in session after summer break, so I imagine many people were trying to get back into the familiar routine of the school year. Some were probably running late. But their "normal" day was interrupted, too . . . forever.
Whenever I hear of a sudden death, the first thought that pops into my mind is, "Were they ready to die today?" That's the only question that matters at that point. It doesn't matter whose fault it was, how it happened, or why it happened. We all know we'll die someday . . . but what if your someday were today? Are you ready?
The Bible tells us that "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27) If death just meant oblivion, there wouldn't be anything to be concerned about. But it's not. There comes judgment, giving account of ourselves to God. Our accounts don't look too good, either. God is holy and righteous, and next to Him, all the "good" things that we do are like filthy, dirty rags (Isaiah 64:6), even things like helping our neighbor, going to church, being baptized, or giving to the poor. We've missed the mark - "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) And we're told in Revelation 21:8 that all sinners ". . . shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone . . ." There is plenty to be concerned about after we die and face the judgment of God!
But it doesn't have to end this way; we don't have to go to hell! Hell is reserved for the devil and his angels, and God has no desire to send any person there. He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) He is so against our going to hell that He Himself paid the price for our sins, so that we wouldn't have to go there. You see, there is a price to pay for our sin, and that payment is death - "For the wages of sin is death . . . " Death, physically, when our bodies die; and death, spiritually, when our souls are cast into hell (Revelation 20:14). Our sin has to be paid for, and that payment is death.
But look! The Bible tells us that Someone - One who had no sin of his own requiring payment - Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died. He died for us. Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." In the Old Testament, the Jews offered sacrifices of pure, spotless lambs as an atonement for their sins - there was a death required. The lamb was killed in their place, to pay for their sins. In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God (John 1:36), the substitute standing in to pay for our sins. All those Old Testament offerings were just a picture of God's True Lamb, who would die to take away the sin of the world.
Does the knowledge of your sin weigh heavy upon you? Are you afraid that no matter what you do, you still won't make it to Heaven? Are you trying to do enough good to outweigh the bad, so that God will let you into Heaven? I have good news for you! You can have your sins forgiven. You can be sure of going to Heaven, and you don't have to do any amount of good things to get there! What do you have to do? Simply believe with all your heart that Jesus died for you personally, to pay for your sins, and that He rose again in triumph over sin and death - "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness . . ." (Romans 10:10). Then simply ask Him to forgive your sins and trust that He will - "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13) It really is that simple!
I know that many, if not most, of my readers have already done this, and they are ready to meet God if their someday should turn into today. But there may be a few who aren't sure about it, or they already know that they are still trying to pay their own way to Heaven, and they have no hope, no assurance that they'll make it. Maybe you've never even heard about this before and this is new to you. It's for you that I write this entry. With all my heart, I pray that you will quit trying to do it yourself. Jesus Christ has already done it for you; all you have to do is believe that He did and ask His forgiveness. Don't put it off - "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2) Someday could be today.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if this day that we associate with the darkest day in the history of the US became a day of celebration for you - the day that you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior?! It may have started off as a perfectly normal day . . . but it could become the day that changes your life!