“I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, Lord, make me live in safety.” Psalm 5:8 CSB
September 11th will always be a day of remembrance for a world that changed forever when four planes veered from their scheduled flight plans. I was on vacation, sleeping in that Tuesday morning, when my sister-in-law called to tell me what had happened. I remember the fear that overcame me as I wondered what the world was coming too? I thought of my friends who lived in New York and wondered if they were OK. By the time the plane flew into the Pentagon I thought we were at war. Then the plane crashed in Pennsylvania, led by Todd Beamer and other passengers who sacrificed their lives for those on the ground. A nightmare unfolding before our very eyes. I remember that night as I lay in bed thinking, “The world will never be the same again.” I remember feeling afraid for what the next day would bring. But with God, we can lie down and sleep in peace, for He is our safety.
We have no idea when horrific events will happen in our lives, whether individually or as a nation. But we do have assurance, God is with us when they happen. God was with Jean and Dan Potter that day. Jean was on the 81st floor of the North Tower when the plane hit. She describes what came to her in that moment, “This is not your time. We are with you. Your brother is with you.” Her brother had died 2 years prior. She describes her trip down the stairs, how she felt relief when the crowd she was with reached the 20’s and they started to see the fireman racing up the stairs past them. She felt God pushing her on, encouraging her to keep going, and she did. Her husband Dan, a fireman at the time, was in Staten Island when the attack happened. He arrived just in time for the South Tower to collapse. Jean had passed his lieutenant, Vinny Giammona on her way out of the building as he raced up the stairs. He was one of 60 firemen Dan knew personally who died that day. 343 Fireman died as they rushed in to save the lives of those in the building. There are no words that can do justice for what people endured that day.
Dan had to retire from firefighting as a result of the injuries he suffered. They both had severe PTSD they had to overcome in the years that followed. Their book, “By God’s Grace: A Survivor’s Story of Love, Hope and Healing” details the events of that day in their life. But this quote from Jean speaks volumes: “He was with all of us that day, and I don’t want people to think that we were so special because we were saved,” Jean said. “I mean it wasn’t our time, and He was with those who were passing over, and it’s just a great privilege to speak about Him.” God only knows why some were spared and others weren’t, but He was with them all. In Him, we can find safety.
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