Sept 14

This week marks two very significant anniversaries. One of these affects everyone I know. One of them affects mostly myself and my family.

The first of these as you know is 9/11, the anniversary of the attacks on our country on Sept. 11, 2001. Our country forever changed that day. In some ways for the bad, in some for the good.

This event brought home to us that we live in a different time. While many of us want to look nostalgically to life before 9/11 and wistfully try to believe that it can be that way again, it never will. Occasionally we will be watching an old sitcom or drama program, set in New York City, and there they are: the Twin Towers. Yet they are gone. Or we’ll see an airport scene on TV. You know the ones, where you have the loved ones expectantly waiting at the gate for their beloved. Or the sad, tearful good-byes at the gate just before the airline staff closes the door leading to the plane. And these pale in comparison with scenes and stories of those beheaded, or killed in other ways, simply because of their faith, or their way of life.

But some good has come from this horrible, horrible event. For a while everyone it seemed held their loved ones a little tighter. We were more deliberate about saying “I love you” when we separated, as well as at other times. The important things once again were important, more important, than lesser, more urgent things. And God and faith and prayer and church made a huge comeback for many in our nation.

Sadly, some of those things have been lost again, as the years have lulled some of us to sleep. But I think that it’s still better than before, and that those feelings and values and actions aren’t lost. Just a bit under the surface.

The second anniversary happens this Sunday, Sept. 14th. It’s the day my mother died very suddenly and unexpectedly. She was 49. I was 17. And that was 40 years ago this Sunday.

I think about her a lot. It seems a lot more lately. Perhaps that’s partly because in the last few years we have now lost both Joyce’s mom and dad. Perhaps it’s my own age, having now lived almost as long as my grandfather (who died before I was born); I’ve lived longer than my mother; and I’ve lived past the age that my father had double bypass surgery. Perhaps it’s just what’s going on in my life right now. Perhaps it’s just what happens.

I wish she could’ve seen her grandchildren, and now her great-grandchildren. I wish she could’ve gotten to know Joyce—they did meet when we were in junior high, but we didn’t start dating till a month after she died. She probably would’ve taken Joyce’s side on pretty much everything! I wish she could’ve been around to take part in and take pride in the love and ministry, the successes and the disappointments, of our family through the years.

And yes, I know she has still done all that. But it’s not the same. Not for her. Certainly not for me.

These are reminders that what we see is not forever, the good and the bad. That the blessings and the curses of this world can be taken from us in a heartbeat. That we are called to live in the moment, to make the most of our lives today. That tomorrow—that even the next minute—is not a guarantee. That only eternal life lasts forever.

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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