September 9, 2011. The day my world shook, two days before the whole world shook. The day I wept, some forty-eight hours, almost to the minute, before our nation wept.
Sitting in a sunny spot on my dorm room bed at Tennessee, praying and reading scripture, God spoke. I was reading through the Bible day by day, intending to read from Genesis to Revelation. I should have been plodding through Leviticus, but a voice kept nagging at me to read Jeremiah. I told the voice that I had a plan, and that I would not get to Jeremiah for many months. But still the voice nagged, and bugged, and whispered. My dorm was unairconditioned, so I had all the windows open. In a way that seems like something that could only happen in the movies, a strong breeze came through, and blew the pages of my bible around. Not to Jeremiah, thankfully, because that would have been unbelievable. I tried to get back to Leviticus but the pages kept blowing, and still the voice tugged at me. “Read Jeremiah.” So Jeremiah it was. The voice, however, was not specific about what I should read, so I just started at the beginning. A mere four verses in, here’s what I found
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and rtouched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put smy words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day kover nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Words to a hestitant Jeremiah. Words to a hestitant me. People were beginning to recognize my call to ministry, though I was quite certain they were wrong. But that day, I said yes. And the irony was not lost on me, two days later, as I sat in a pew with mourners from all over Knoxville, as we prayed for our heartbroken nation.
God’s call to me was clear: Share my love with the ones who have put their trust in the things of this world. Show them that though the mountains may shake, my love for them will never falter. Bring my love and shalom to all the broken places and people. Go to those to whom I will send you.
It’s been ten years. Many will mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, because that’s the day that defined a whole generation of people, the day that changed a nation. I will join with everyone else remembering the day on Sunday, but tomorrow, I will remember that it was the day I said yes, the day from which my life will never be the same.