It’s the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. I want to bring a two-part series from 1 Cor 3:10-17 in light of 9/11. I don’t know why all of my messages are now becoming two-part series. You may accuse me of laziness and that might be partly true. But let me just say, I always intend on doing one message, but as I dig into the Word of God, there is so much to say and I get to about page 15-20 and I haven’t gotten to the main point yet. And that’s when I think, okay, it’s time to do a page break and do another two-part series.
In remembrance of 9/11, I entitled this series — 9/11: Rebuilding from Ground Zero
Ground Zero is not just a term for the spot where the WTC towers used to be. I think it is also a good metaphor for starting over when we realize that our spiritual foundation has not been set properly.
In Part 2, next week, we will tackle the question, how can you and I build our lives upon Jesus, who is the only solid foundation for our lives? So that message will be more practical in nature, how can we build our spiritual lives with the right kinds of materials assuming we have the right foundation, Jesus Christ.
But today, our focus will be foundations, checking our foundations, making sure we have the right foundation.
I am not sure how much you were impacted personally by 9/11, but I for one have many personal connections with this tragic event in our country’s history. I was born in New York and I lived there for the first 9 years of my life. Interestingly, my brother’s birthday is 9/11, twenty years before the actual event. That’s one bday I’ll never forget. My father did his PhD at NYU so he used to study as well as work in and near the WTC. On top of that, Jackie and I were on a furlough after our first year of mission work in Tokyo and we were visiting relatives in NY on 9/11/2001 and we witnessed the crumbling of the towers with our own eyes. So this day is very personal for me.
Why don’t we take a moment of silence to pray for the victims and the heroes who lost their lives on 9/11 and then I wanted to show a short clip.
[Show clip – Stanley Praimnath, 9/11 survivor]
That was the testimony of Stanley Praimnath. I have watched this clip so many times, I feel like I know the guy. I spent this week watching clip after clip of stories from 9/11. This one in particular caught my attention. Stanley, while he was still in the building on the 84th floor right after the plane had hit, he call out, and I quote, “to an invisible God that I had heard so many times before, Lord, just this one time more.” He jumped up and grabbed the hand of Brian Clark, his guardian angel that the Lord had sent to save him. Toward the end of the clip, Stanley shares, I struggled with that survivor’s guilt for a long while. Why me? Of all the other good people, why me? And then one day, he said, why not me? He moved on and eventually became a pastor.
You hear that and you think, God can work good for those who love him. He can redeem a tragic even like 9/11 and hope can shine through the darkness.
But for every one of the amazing testimonies, there are countless others, family members sharing about how they lost a loved one on 9/11. I came across one clip by Jim Riches, a retired fireman from the NYC fire department. He had 3 sons follow in his footsteps and they became firemen — Jimmy, Tommy and Danny. That day, Jimmy was working and his company was one of the closest to Ground Zero so everyone in the family knew that Jimmy must have been one of the first to get to the scene.
And each of them shared, Jim, the father, and the two brothers, Tommy and Danny, about how they looked for the body amidst the rubble. Every day for months. And about 6 months later, sure enough, they found his body.
You put those two stories — Stanley Praimnath, one who was spared and who became a pastor and Jimmy Riches, a fireman who died, you put those two individuals side by side and you have to wonder, it’s not fair. God, you are not fair.
9/11 is one of those events that has been etched into the national memory. If you grew up in this country, then it’s the kind of event that you know exactly where you were when it happened. It’s as if time slowed down that day and you can remember frame by frame what you were doing and what you were thinking when the planes hit the towers and crashed near the Pentagon.
And on this 10 year memorial of 9/11, I want to talk today about foundations. Upon what foundation are you building your life?
Read text – 1 Cor 3:10-17
The most important thing when starting a building project is to ensure a stable foundation. A foundation that will bear the weight of whatever you plan to build on top of it. It would be foolish to build a 50 story skyscraper on top of a foundation of sand along the coast line.
Because the waves would hit or even an earthquake and the skyscraper would topple over because the foundation is not solid enough. And I believe the same thing happens in our spiritual lives. God often shakes up our foundations.