But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father… So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Matthew 24:36, 44
Nineteen years ago, shortly after 9:37 a.m., I looked across the Potomac river from the fifth floor of the State Department and saw smoke billowing from the Pentagon. American Airlines 77, a Boeing 757 aircraft, had been flown into the building, killing all 64 people aboard and 125 people in the Pentagon itself.
I called the State Department Operations Center to report the news. Within minutes, we were ordered to evacuate our building. Some people were frantic, others calmly gathered their classified material and secured them in safes. I called Phoebe and told her I would try to make it home. Shortly after I left the building, a mistaken news bulletin reported that a car bomb had gone off at the State Department. Soon after, cell-phone service went down in the entire DC area.
The walk to Farragut North metro was surreal. Truck drivers were calling out that a plane had hit the Capitol. Crossing Pennsylvania Avenue, I saw the Secret Service telling everyone to run away from the White House. Professionally dressed women were sprinting down the middle of the street clutching their high heels. On the metro home, everyone was talking emotionally about what they had seen. Anyone who has ridden public transit in Washington knows that if people talk on the metro, either the Nats have won, or it is the end of the world.
Jesus tells us that we won’t ever know when the end of the world will come. Instead, we are to prepare for His return. But how do we live a life of in-between? Between not knowing what tomorrow brings, but working confidently in the Lord's garden here on earth? I’ve learned that it’s NOT by planning around my hopes, my fears, or my wildest ambitions. None of those have turned out to be very accurate predictors of tomorrow. Yet as my confidence in myself declines, my trust in God grows.
When I finally returned home on the morning of September 11, 2001, Phoebe was gathered on the porch with our three children and a neighbor. She was crying because she hadn’t heard from me for three hours and didn’t know if I was still alive. The day had started like any other, and it ended with us on our knees. We really don’t know what the next day or hour will bring - except a merciful and loving God. And that is enough.
God bless you,