Ever been hit hard, torn down, in need of rebuilding?
Eleven years ago, my husband and I and our three young children watched thousands murdered in real time as a hijacked jet crashed into the second tower. And we watched both buildings crumble to the ground. This was not a Hollywood movie. This was real life. Real terror. And my knees buckled.
Five words throbbed in my heart and spilled out my mouth—a desperate plea.
I touch her name—and her unborn child who would be eleven today. A tear trickles down my cheek in the cold amidst hushed crowd. These heinous acts of terrorists–they murdered and dug these graves with hate to bury their hated. And all that’s left are . . .
. . . and a small pear tree with a nest.
What can Christ do with such devastation?
Here I stand watching water flow into depths I cannot see. Open graves they are—sad, yet strangely beautiful—washed over and over—flowing—never ending—serene. For me, this monument is a worshipful place—a place reflecting God’s power to restore—to resurrect–to overcome hate and terror and murder with love and life and freedom.
God never lets stories end in hatred and grief. No. God takes destruction ashes—every bit of them—and builds beauty such that we become hushed and wipe quiet tears of thanks that death and destruction are never the end. They are always the beginning. God is like that and His people are like that. We weep and mourn for a time. Grieving is necessary because God grieved too. But then we stand together determined and we rebuild together.
Look at this place! Hallowed ground on which I realize each engraved name could have been my own or that of my loved ones. There are heroes here, written in stone. Firefighters and police and just plain normal people like me who gave their lives to save others.
I find his name and place my hand with a prayer of thanks. Todd Beamer. After praying The Lord’s Prayer, he helped crash the plane into Pennsylvania ground to save others. Destruction became hallowed ground of ultimate sacrifice for good. Those on that flight died so others could live.
God died so we could live too—the ultimate sacrifice at the hearts and hands of evil.
Names go on and on, granite engraved. I wish each face were carved there too! I want to see their faces! I want to draw close to those who could have been me—to those who could have been my loved one.
God wants to draw close too. He drew closest in Bethlehem when He left His high and holy position and came as a helpless babe in a manger. He drew closer at Calvary when He allowed evil to scourge Him unrecognizable, nail him to a cross, raise him to suffocate in his own fluid. And Jesus committed His spirit to the Father who would raise Him on the third day—all for us—all for love.
The pear tree called me back—this little, twisted pear tree anchored with wires and soft bands to protect from cutting and bruising tender trunk flesh and branches. This little tree survived the terror and now stands for life—for new life—for freedom. The gates of hell will not snuff out life. This surviving tree houses a nest high up that cupped life-filled eggs. Life hatched and grew and flew, in ordained time. The pear tree reminds me . . .
God came in love to give life and freedom. He is no tyrant. He never terrorizes, never coerces, never does anything but nurture and protect love and life and freedom.
I see the new construction just beyond the pear tree—the tower called FREEDOM—still going up and up with lines rising to the heavens right by this space. For me, it’s a tribute to our God of love overcoming hate—our God of life overcoming death—our God of freedom overcoming tyranny.
I cry simultaneous tears of sadness for the loss and tears of gratefulness for the hope.
God will not leave us leveled!
God resurrects!God rebuilds!
He brings forth freedom from terror, always and forever.
Even when we’re hit hard and leveled and devastated and terrorized—when we stand next to piles of our own soul rubble and wait and wonder if rescue will come . . .
God will not leave us leveled!
No matter what has been leveled in us, we have this holy hope—this holy promise of rebuilding—this holy promise of creating something more beautiful than before because it’s raised beside rubble by the God who overcame, who overcomes, who resurrects.
We leveled Him once on a cross where He died. We murdered God. But He rose again, not to retaliate but to forgive and to restore. He imparts His holy power that frees from hate and terror and devastation. They need not level us. They need not keep us from good. We have freedom to receive God’s love and to share His love with others.
People are waiting in lines in the cold to enter stores, hoping to find the perfect gift.
We’ve already been given the best gift of all—Jesus—the One and only—who came to us—who came to take the rubble of our leveled lives and this broken world. His holy heart and hands rebuild something glorious. He came to set broken captives free and to rebuild the rubble. He offers the most precious gift of Himself to all who will receive.
Will we accept the Master Designer? Will we let the rebuilding begin? He’s only waiting on our permit. He already owns the holy ground.
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7