On September 11, 2001, my friend Michael Hingson and his guide dog, Roselle, went to work in his office on the 78th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. What started off as a normal day turned extraordinary when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 was flown into their building. Not knowing what was going on, Michael and Roselle walked down 1,463 steps and exited the North Tower.
Minutes later, the South Tower collapsed some one hundred yards from them. As the pair turned to flee from the debris, Michael, who had prayed throughout the morning, cried out to God, “Why did you get us out of the building only to let another fall on us?” In the chaos, he heard God’s voice inside his heart, Don’t worry about the things you cannot control. Focus on running with Roselle and the rest will take care of itself. In what was now an urban wilderness, God’s words comforted and calmed his heart.
Michael and Roselle ran, dodging debris and then being enveloped by the toxic three-hundred-foot dust cloud. In the utter chaos of those moments, Michael felt God’s presence and experienced the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). The deep peace allowed him to totally focus on running with Roselle, who was now temporarily blind from the dust. Michael, who learned echolocation at the age of four, and Roselle simultaneously heard an opening into a subway station and ducked out of the wilderness into a refuge.
It was a few years before Michael talked about his mystical experience publicly, but now he alludes to God’s guidance in the wilderness whenever he tells his story. God made a way for Michael on that terrible day. How has God made a way for you in the wilderness?
Thank you, faithful God, for meeting and guiding me in the wild places. Amen.
The Isaiah text portrays the redemptive activity of God that is about to be introduced into Israel’s life. All paradigms lie shattered before the immensity of God’s grace! The joy of Psalm 126 is occasioned by the memory of God’s act of redemption in the past and also by the anticipation that a similar intervention is imminent. Paul’s autobiographical sketch directed to the Philippians confesses the change that has come into his life as a result of “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” The story of Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet must be read in the context of Jesus’ looming passion. Jesus sets Mary’s actions in their proper perspective by linking them to his own death, even as he deflects Judas’s counterfeit compassion.
Read Isaiah 43:16-21. How do you respond to this God who insists on doing new things for the sake of the people?
Read Psalm 126. Pray this psalm three times: (1) pray all the verbs in the past tense in thanksgiving; (2) pray all the verbs in the future tense as a prayer for help; (3) pray verses 1-3 in the past tense, verses 5-6 in the future tense. Which was hardest to pray?
Read Philippians 3:4b-14. What props or credentials do you need to let go of?
Read John 12:1-8. What motivations does your discipleship reflect?
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