Honoring Our Heroes

Tuesday Morning, September 11, 2001 many of us saw the best and worst of humanity play out in real life down the street and on our television screens. America had been attacked! Real fathers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, friends, people… real people, ordinary people, were viciously attacked by a radical Islamic terrorists. We didn’t see it coming!

At first we wondered if it was planned? We had a hard time believing that someone would plan such a vicious attack on civilians. We watched the second plane hit, learned about the Pentegon attack, and heard of the other plane that was crashed into a field on American soil. Many of us sat glued to the television praying, not even knowing what to say, because we didn’t know what was happening.

While many stood still in fear, shock, or wonder, there was another group of men and women who quickly mobalized and went running into the fray. They were our first responders. They were just as surprised as the rest of us, but they had a duty that day. Many were off work, but they still geared up and ran into those buildings. Some who were in the building that day been trained as volunteers and instinctively started to lead people to safety. Many entered into the fray never to make it back home.

We gained a new appreciation for our first responders that day. It has become a day to remember and honor our heroes. We had always known that if we were in danger and we called, the fire truck would come, the ambulance would get there, the police would arrive. We always knew that there was a cost, but on that day we saw that cost paid over and over by incredible men and women who went to help.

In the years since, we have had time to reflect and notice that we have alway had heroes in our midst! They enter our lives at our scariest moments (when we face a health crisis, a fire, or are the victim of a crime) and walk us through them. They bring us peace when our world is anything but peaceful.

It always comes with a cost. Sometimes the cost is relatively low and its just an inconvenience. Sometimes the cost is emotional, knowing you did everything right, but still wondering and feeling like you lost or it’s the heart break of the broken situations they enter that seem so broken they will never heal. Sometimes the cost is high, too high, when our friends and heroes don’t come back.

As I was praying for some of our local first responders today and reflecting on 9/11, I came accross this verse:

He who follows righteousness and mercy Finds life, righteousness, and honor. – Proverbs 21:21

I am grateful for our first responders, especially those who I know in our own community. I count it a privildege to be a friend and pray for many by name. I know them to be men and women of character who enter into difficult situations and are genuine peacemakers. I have found them to be men and women of honor.

Typically at this time of year, our church sponsors a breakfast for the first responders in our community! I genuinely enjoy being able to celebrate and honor these men and women. This year, for the first time, we have had to alter our plans (Due to the virus) but I look forward to celebrating our local heroes in the days ahead, because I believe them to be men and women worthy of honor. I am grateful to God for thier service in our community and the thousands upon thousands like them around the nation and globe who step in to help when help is needed most.

True Prayer Is Aimed At Heaven

This is one of those things that may be difficult to grasp because technically God is spirit and has the capacity to be everywhere at once. He is not limited to space-time as you and I are. He is an unlimited being, yet he has limited himself for our sake. Heaven is his abode. The place where he resides, but if we know our Old Testament we know that God created Heaven and Earth together (Gen.1:1). He used to walk on the Earth with Adam and Eve in a paradise known as the Garden of Eden. But when Adam and Eve sinned against God they were expelled from the Garden and the presence of God.

Our sin has caused God to separate himself from us. The world that God created and blessed has become infected with sin. Darkness cannot exist in the presence of light and so too sin cannot exist in the full presence of God. Moses spoke with God face-to-face, but in a limited way (Ex 33:11) . Much like the world experienced when Jesus became a man and took on flesh (Phil 2:6-7). When Moses asked to see God in all His glory, God said it couldn’t be done without killing Moses (Ex 33:20, John 1:18, 1 John 4:12). So in a sense what we see and experience of God is a veiled experience. We have yet to fully experience Him. Hold on, we will. There will be a new Heaven and a new Earth and God himself will be the shining light. Sin will be dealt with once and for all and we will all be in the full presence of God (Rev. 21:23, 22:3-5, IS. 60:19-22). Until that time there is a separation. We pray to God in Heaven because Heaven has yet to come down to earth.

Think of it this way. In WWII the Germans advanced on France and took it fairly quickly. France was under German occupation. However, there were still several men and women, boys and girls who operated as the French resistance. Resisting the German occupation and working to get information to the Allies. They had a vision of seeing their country liberated. The reality was that their country was overrun by Germany and so they were living in a German state, but they took bold risks and sacrificed everything to see their liberty restored.

Earth is a seized state. It has been given over the prince of the power of the air, aka Satan or the Devil (Eph 2:1-2, Mat 4:8-9). But Christ has come to liberate us from the tyranny of sin. Once we have been set free, we still live among a sinful people. Christ has given us the mission to share the good news of liberation with the world. The Earth will become a truly free state once again.

Our Prayers now are offered up as a message from behind enemy lines. They help to focus us in on the mission. They line us up with where God is working. They empower us to see a better day. They give us opportunity to offer hope. It’s a phone call to the liberating force. We don’t have the power to free ourselves, but we know who does.

We come to God in prayer simply, relationally, in community, and with a view toward Heaven. This is completely different than how the Pharisee/ hypocrites of the day were praying. They were praying profoundly, non-relationally, in a fashion designed to show that they were superior to others and for personal benefit. Their prayers weren’t heard by God because they never fully intended them to be.