I just finished a book called Let’s Roll. It was written by Lisa Beamer, the wife of Todd Beamer, a passenger on United Flight 93 which crashed into the Pennsylvania meadow after being hijacked by Islamic terrorists on September 11th, 2001. Todd, at the age of 32, was among the passengers that stopped the plane from reaching Washington DC, were it would have taken countless more lives. His third child, a little girl, was born 4 months after he died that day.
It’s a story of grief. It’s a story of loss. It’s a story of hope. It’s a story of life.
As Lisa shared her heart on the pages of this blue hardcover bound book, I couldn’t help but relive my moments of that day. I sat in a comfortable, safe 6th grade classroom in a small down in southern MN. My friends and I watched in disbelief as we feared what was going to continue to happen, that day, and in the future. We saw buildings crumble like tissue paper, and we saw grief painted all over the familiar banner of CNN. We watched hearts break, and even at our age, couldn’t understand why something of this multitude would happen.
But what is more; we saw hope. We saw a country united, and we saw Americans stand, for the first time in a long time, for the words: “In God we trust.” We saw efforts of people like Todd Beamer in a great way light up the darkened smoke of the New York skyline.
Lisa wrote about her two sons, as well as the heart of her husband. She didn’t lie. She talked about how they struggled. She told of their humanness, and the greatness of God’s mercy in their lives. She talked of Todd’s humility, even as a successful business man for the Oracle corporation. I felt as though in those pages, I too, got to know her husband. In the wake of September 11th, all changed for this beautiful woman, as it does whenever someone we treasure leaves this place. No credit can be given to Lisa in those days as she met with American dignitaries and made her children food. She loved, for she was first loved, even in the midst of such sorrow. Even in the midst of never being able to live each and every thing her and her charming husband had planned on living.
She could not take her eyes from the cross, for it was all the hope she knew. It was the only way to take another step. She spoke of how in her husband’s last words that Tuesday morning, were of love, for his family, and for his Father. Before making an effort with the other men and women on the plane to storm the terrorists and stop the events from furthering themselves, he prayed the Lord’s prayer on the phone line with a woman on the ground who was able to receive it when he dialed asking for help.
I can almost hear his words with the hum of the jet engine rattle laid behind them, in the clear blue sky.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kindgom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory. Forever and ever, Amen.”
Todd kept his eyes up, even as the plane was going down.
What astounds me here, as it has in every moment I have walked death in my life, is the incredibly reality of Jesus in those moments. There is not, and will not ever be anything else in life that will stay forever. All else can be broken, and all else can fall. It was stated best in these words in the book:
“Think about it: the World Trade Center represented economic power, success, and security, yet it was shaken and destroyed in one hour or less. The Pentagon is the symbol of our nation’s military might, yet it too, proved vulnerable. Where can we find true security in these days?
“The men and women in the Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and aboard the four hijacked planes were some of the best our nation had to offer. They were the picture of intelligence, energy, and power. Yet their best wasn’t good enough to keep the enemy from attacking, maiming and killing several thousand people.
“But I have found safety and security in a loving Heavenly Father, who cannot be shaken, who will never leave me or forsake me, and in whom I can trust completely. For those looking for hope, I recommend grabbing the hand of your Heavenly Father as tightly as possible, like a little child does when with his parent. God is a hero who will always be there when you need him.
“It’s true that Todd and the other heroes aboard Flight 93 gave their lives that others might be saved. But if somehow they had known what was awaiting them, and they had been given a choice early that September morning, I doubt that any of them would have boarded that flight…they didn’t want to die.
“Yet there was one who came to earth, knowing ahead of time that his most important purpose in living would be accomplished only through his dying. He knew throughout his life and at the height of his career that no matter how well he performed, nor matter how many people he helped, he was destined to die – to give his life so many others may find true life, abundant life here on earth, and eternal life to come.
“He really didn’t want to die either. In fact, as he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, just outside Jerusalem’s city walls, Jesus begged God, “Father, if there is any other way…let this cup pass from me”…even knowing all the good that was going to come as a result of his death, he prayed three times to avoid it.
“Finally he said, “Not my will, but yours be done.” That was God’s plan.”
Lisa recalls this song being one of impact in her life, as it was sung at Todd’s memorial service.
If it weren’t for the love that came and died, we would never know love enough to care to lay down our lives for others. We wouldn’t know love enough to want to go home as those passengers that fought to stop hijackers that Tuesday morning in 2001 did. We wouldn’t know love enough to miss those who are not here anymore. And we wouldn’t know love enough to know that we will not be here forever. That we mourn, but we mourn with hope for eternity. Here, we will live forever in the midst of happiness and sadness. We will be torn as to when to morn, and when to rejoice for those gone before us. But, this too, shall pass. And, in the blink of an eye, forever, we will weep no more.
Todd Beamer, Lisa Beamer, all who have told the story, all who have died in my life, and all who continue to live, thank you for giving to the Lord. This is a life that was changed, not because you were heroes, but because you openly needed the One True Hero that has saved us all. You are His tool to teach us to look up. I can’t wait to share forever with you.
But, for now, we’re here.
So let’s roll.
…because love wins.