I woke up later than planned. The voice speaking on my radio alarm clock announced, “Breaking news out of New York. An airplane has crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.” Thinking I hadn’t heard right, I sat up on the edge of my bed. The announcer repeated his words. “Again, we are getting reports that an airplane has crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.”
I thought about the day ahead. Back in the Spring, we had begun serving lunch in addition to dinner at the restaurant. I had been taking Monday and Tuesday off. Personally, my life was fantastic. Terri, the love of my life, had just bought a house next to her parents in Richardson. I was in the process of building a new house myself, in Roanoke. The restaurant I managed, Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, was growing and continuing to become an iconic part of the Dallas-Fort Worth food scene. I had great friends and had found my happy spot. Every aspect of my life seemed unbelievable, especially considering the journey I had taken to get to that morning. My life overflowed with love. And the money wasn’t bad either. The night before, I had gone to bed living my best life. I awoke, not realizing the uncertainty that was about to unfold.
“Breaking News! A second plane has crashed into the World Trade Center.” I walked into the living room of my trailer. My dogs, Noel and Ripley, greeted me and were ready to go outside. I put on a pot of coffee, turned on the TV, placed the two dogs on the leash, made a quick trip around the block, and hurried back inside to see what was going on. I grabbed a cup of coffee, plopped down in my chair, turned my attention to the news, and listened to the TV news personalities reporting on what had transpired. The Twin Towers were behind the two talking heads. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My jaw dropped as I watched the tower crumble behind them. As they talked, I pointed to the screen, as if they could see me, screaming, “The tower! The tower! It’s falling!” I picked up the phone and started making calls.
The uncertainty that unraveled that day, and over the days that immediately followed, still gives me chills. I wish I had recorded my experiences on paper better, but it’s hard to remember to write stuff down like that while you’re living it. In the days ahead, the World would experience many firsts. For me, and many others, one of the eeriest parts was not seeing any planes flying in the air. Living about 20 miles from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport and a stone’s throw from Alliance Airport, there were always planes in the air. Always. But that week, the skies stayed silent. Businesses closed. We didn’t open the doors of the restaurant for days. I talked to my mom daily. I talked to my boss and mentor, Paul Vinyard, what seemed like constantly. I talked with Terri, who like me, couldn’t believe what was happening. I spoke with my friends, my employees, and all the people in my life.
People were my life.
Food, and the restaurant business, had served as a vehicle to bring us together.
We had conversations about God and faith-regardless of what we personally believed God to be-and stood by each other, united in the determination to forge ahead. We didn’t know what tomorrow would bring. We rarely ever do. We didn’t know if we would survive. Restaurants don’t do well with their doors closed. People can’t pay their bills if they aren’t able to go to work. Families can fall apart under duress and stress that comes with battling the adversity that comes when we face uncertainty. Nothing seemed the same. The world we once knew had permanently changed. We didn’t know if that would be a good thing. What we didn’t know outweighed what we did know. We took a deep breath and a long pause. We stood up and we stepped forward into the future. Together.
Today, as you read this, there is more we don’t know than we do know. The uncertainty we face at this moment is unsettling, if not terrifying. In the years since September 11, Terri and I grew in our faith journey, rededicating our lives to Jesus in 2007. I’m no longer in the restaurant business. That alone seems crazy hard for me to believe. Many of the people who were in my life then, for the most part, are still a part of my life today, although we’ve each gone in many different directions. We may not talk like we did then or share every moment of our lives together, but we are intrinsically part of each other.
In the new seasons of life that have followed, we have met more people, made new friends, added new family members. We’ve also said goodbye to a few. There have been many highs and many lows. Good times and bad.
Life continually propels us into the future.
I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. COVID-19 will change us and the world we once knew. Life a week from now won’t be the same as it was before this week. We’re told things will get worse before we see them get better. Like me, you’ve likely heard that said about some moment in your life before this moment we’re experiencing collectively right now.
As a believer, living life with a Christian worldview, I find comfort in my faith in Christ. I do not know tomorrow brings, but I do know what eternity holds for me and many of those I love. Suffice it to say, one way I believe we tackle the unsettling terror of uncertainty together is through faith. Faith in a higher power-God as you presently understand God. Faith in the people of medicine and science. Faith in our leaders, those who are on the front lines, working hard to help us overcome this problem. Faith in each other. Alone, fending for ourselves, we won’t get through this darkness. Together, we will.
In addition to standing firmly on our faith, we need to listen. Listen to what the authorities, community leaders, and people in our government tell us. Trust that they have our best interests in mind at this moment. Yes, I know. We don’t all agree politically and we don’t all see eye to eye. But this is a time to put our differences aside if we are going to get through what may be the biggest challenge of our lives. Follow the instructions and guidelines given to us by local leaders and the folks who know at the CDC.
We’ve got to communicate. Talk to your loved ones. Speak to your friends. Reassure each other, share what’s happening in our individual lives, so collectively, we can survive this storm. Don’t be afraid to lean on others, to talk about your fears and concerns, or to share what’s buzzing around in your head. It’s a crazy time. Believe me. I know crazy when I see it. Even though you are shut-in, be careful not to shut out those you love. Keep the conversations going. We need each other.
Help people. Uncertainty brings hardships and difficulties that we aren’t necessarily prepared to get through. Some of us will weather the storm better than others. Those that do should be prepared to help those that don’t. It’s the right thing to do. What does that look like in your neighborhood? I don’t know yet. But you will when you see it. Lend a hand. Lift others up. Maybe it’s simply a few words of encouragement. Likely, it will require more. Be ready to give. Be prepared to demonstrate love through serving others.
Finally, remember to be grateful. Gratitude changes how you look at things and how you walk through tough times. Yes, even in the darkest night, you can be thankful. Don’t focus on what we can’t, don’t, and won’t. Look for opportunities to be grateful in the moment and share that gratitude with those you love throughout the day.
Yes, these times are uncertain. I don’t know if they are making a bigger deal out of this than we need to or not. At this point, I’d rather err on the side of caution if it means minimizing the loss of any life. We don’t know whose life we will save by taking the unprecedented actions we’re being called on to voluntarily follow.
We can tackle the unsettling terror of uncertainty together. For me and my family, we will continue to trust in our Lord and keep our eyes turned to Jesus. We will take the necessary actions to minimize the community spread of COVID-19. We will continue to live life the best we know how to live during a time when life is gravely uncertain. We’ll talk. We’ll laugh. We’ll go for walks. What steps will you take to lead and serve your family through this storm?
For us, part of the plan includes relying on the truth of Scripture. The word of God brings us comfort, provides us wisdom and gives us direction.
Here are 7 key Scriptures you can turn to during these uncertain times.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” Psalm 56:3
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Be confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
These verses remind us that God is in control even when our life is spinning out of control. We can trust in the Lord because He is trustworthy and faithful. Whatever we’re going through, we can know that the Lord will ultimately use it for good, drawing us nearer to Him, growing us spiritually, and showering us with His love in the process. Be confident in the anchor of your salvation, who, through His Spirit, intercedes on your behalf. God remains for us, not against us.
Know, with certainty, that during these uncertain times, Terri and I are praying for you and your loved ones.
To experience life the way God intended, you and I must receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. This gift from God is available to all who ask. Will you personally receive the gift of eternal life so that you can experience the total forgiveness from your sins that come through believing in the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
For nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37)
The Devotional Guy™
ABOUT: The Devotional Guy™ is a writing ministry of Chaplain Rainer Bantau, a Swiss-born, German kid who grew up in East Texas and today ministers throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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