I vividly remember the morning of September 11. 2001. I was living in Flat Rock, NC, just south of Asheville. I remember hustling into the Country Club where I worked as a cook, trying not to lose my job because of my prodigal lifestyle. At some point, the head chef ran out and sat the staff down. We all huddled around a small, portable, black and white kitchen television and listened to the news about the first plane crash. I didn’t know any of the details about what had happened. But, I remember seeing people holding hands, and throwing themselves out of the tower; and I knew that this was an event of epic proportions. As we watched I thought to myself, “The Lord is calling us to repentance.” I didn’t know about the tower of Siloam yet (Luke 13:1–5). I don’t think anyone else in the kitchen was thinking what I was thinking, but I knew that this was controlled by the sovereign hand of the God of the Bible, and that it was a wake-up call to me–an unconverted sinner.
It was around this same time that conviction of sin had begun to manifest itself in my heart. I sat outside of the door, behind the kitchen of the Country Club where I worked, thinking to myself, “When is God going to kill me or save me?” A series of events in my life brought me to the very depths. I had everything going for me from the worlds’ point of view, but I had nothing without Christ. I ran as fast as I could to the world, and as hard as I could from the Lord.
On October 11, 2001, the Lord delivered me from the power of Satan and into the Kingdom of His beloved Son. He brought me to tears over my sin, and made me to see the mercy of God in the cross of Christ. I cried out for the blood of Jesus. I knew that it was the only thing that could deliver me from the bondage of sin, Satan and the fear of death. I knew that it was the only thing that could deliver me from the wrath of a Holy God.
I have no doubt that September 11, 2001 was instrumental in my conversion. I can’t say that I realized how much a part it played when it happened; but I knew it was a trumpet blast from Almighty God, calling me to repent of my sins and to turn to Christ for pardon and mercy.
Today, I frequently think of those verses in the Book of Revelation that speak of the righteous judgments of God in the earth, their purpose, and the sad reality that most people will never repent of their sins when they see them. I praise God for calling me, making me listen, turning me from my sin to embrace the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rev. 9:20-21: But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceriesor their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Rev. 16:9: And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
Rev. 16:11: They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
I love the way that Isaac Watts captures the response of a redeemed sinner to the grace of God: “Why was I made to hear Your voice and enter while there’s room, while thousands make a wretched choice and rather starve than come.”
*I wrote this post 9 years ago. I’ve revisited it every year since as a reminder of the way in which God sometimes graciously uses His large acts of providence to work in the hearts and lives of those He redeems.