Quarantine: COVID-19 and The Time of Testing

Not long ago I wrote about the coronavirus. I thought I’d written enough.  But a few days later I realized I wasn’t done. I had this feeling there was more to be said. So I prayed, “what else should I write about this Lord?”  The next morning I got up and started making breakfast. As I was cooking I overheard my husband talking to my son.

He said, “Do you know what the word  QUARANTINE means?”

My son responded, “Yeah, that’s when they won’t let you go out and see anyone else.”

My husband answered, “Well, you have part of the answer. But, let me give you the full picture of the word QUARANTINE.  You see, the word quarantine comes from the Latin word quadraginta, which means FORTY or FORTY DAYS.  In Italian, the word is quaranta, which also means FORTY.  This was the number of days a person had to be isolated during times of sickness or plague. Actually, the time of isolation used to be 30 days, but as time passed, it was believed FORTY days was a better time limit.”

As my husband was explaining the word quarantine, one thing stood out to me!  When he said the word quarantine is related to the number 40, I immediately realized something significant.  Being a researcher and student of biblical numbers, I already knew FORTY IS THE NUMBER OF TESTING in the Bible. 

QUARANTINE in ancient times

black plague mask
Mask used during the Black Plague

I looked up the word quarantine for myself and found this information: During ancient times, ships and their sailors were often isolated for a period of 40 days once they arrived. This was a helpful means of disease prevention, and it was believed it would stop the spread of plagues.  Horrible plagues like The Black Death wiped out 30% of Europe’s population. As a result, governments began establishing ways to contain diseases and stop epidemics. By 1448, it was well established that 40 days was a sufficient amount of time to prevent the spread of diseases.

Of course, as I am reading and thinking about quarantines, I can certainly relate to this idea of FORTY DAYS. In the Bible, forty is the number of testing, and surely this coronavirus is a time of testing for the whole world. More importantly, it’s a time of testing for those of us following Jesus!

FORTY REFERS TO THE TIME OF TESTING

Before I go on, let me explain just how significant the number 40 is in the Bible.  There are quite a few examples so stick with me:

God flooded the earth by allowing rain to fall for 40 days and nights (Genesis 7:12)

Jesus fasted and was tested in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4:2) Moses and Elijah fasted for 40 days as well.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years after being freed from Egypt. (Deuteronomy 8:2-5)

Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in Matthew 24:1-2 and Mark 13:1-2.  Forty years after his crucifixion, the Roman Empire destroyed the city and the Temple in 70 A.D.

Ezekiel laid on his right side for 40 days in order to “bear the iniquity” for Judah’s sins. Ezekiel 4:6.

Israel’s first three kings were Saul, David and Solomon.  They each reigned for 40 years.

The giant Goliath bullied and threatened Israel for 40 days. After the 40 days David defeated him (1 Samuel 17:16).

Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 24:18). He also interceded for Israel for 40 days and 40 nights (Deuteronomy 9:18, 25).

The Law said the maximum number of lashes a man could receive for a crime was 40. (Deuteronomy 25:3)

The Israelites spied the land of Canaan for 40 days (Numbers 13:25).

Elijah fled from the evil Jezebel and traveled 40 days and 40 nights to Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:8).

There were 40 days between Jesus resurrection and his ascension (Acts 1:3)

The prophet Jonah went to Nineveh and told the people they had 40 days to repent or Nineveh would be destroyed.

Shall I go on, or do you get the point?  The number 40 is tied to testing in the Bible. So, when I take a fresh look at the idea of being quarantined, my thoughts turn to this idea of testing.

A TIME OF BEING TESTED

We read stories about people around the world being quarantined. For some, it’s been on cruise ships, For others, it’s inside a hospital, or their home. Wherever it is, we know it must be a difficult time, and surely a time of testing.

But, what’s being tested exactly? Well, it all depends on your perspective. Some people may not see it as a time of testing, but rather a time of fearing the unknown, or a time of pain or even depression.  It may simply be the agonizing passing of days.  In contrast, there may be some people who like being quarantined. Maybe it’s a much needed break for them???

If you are a follower of Christ, the word testing takes on a much different meaning. As Christians we know the testing of our faith produces endurance and steadfastness.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I want to focus on the word TRIALS in this passage because trials have to do with TESTING.

The Greek word being used for the word trials is PEIRASMOS. (STRONG’S G3986). This word means: an experiment,  a proving; the trial of a man’s fidelity, integrity or virtue; adversity, affliction that can be allowed by God, serving to prove one’s character or faith. It can also mean temptation, and can be related to circumstances that may entice us to sin.

Trials and Testing

Trials in our life can occur from external circumstances such as physical suffering, persecution or challenges with loved ones or enemies.  Trials can also occur inwardly, such as when we are dealing with depression, grief or perhaps distracting, negative thoughts.

The word peirasmos (trials) is related to testing because as James 1 says, trials TEST OUR FAITH.

Trials and temptations are part of the Christian Life

daisy pic
Daisies are beautiful, but they don’t make us stronger.

A trial or temptation can do one of two things. It can strengthen or weaken us.  In God’s economy, the trials that touch a Christian’s life are allowed in order to bring out that which is GOOD. Of course, that all depends on how we RESPOND to the trial.  Keep in mind that God does not entice a person into temptation, and “he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13).  He does not allow trials to bring about evil in us.  The trials God allows are always ones we will be able to bear, and they can bring about growth in our lives, as well as good things. Granted, it may be very difficult, but when you endure a trial you are strengthened in a way that could not happen if you were to live your life running through meadows of daisies every day! Well, I love that idea, but I would be a weak person with weak spiritual muscles if I ran through daisies all my life. I don’t know how much Jesus could do with a person like that.

“No temptation (trial) has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

flight 93 bookIn the midst of learning about the idea of quarantine, I just happened to be reading a book called Flight 93: The Story, The Aftermath, and The Legacy of American Courage.  A few weeks ago I was reading 102 Minutes, which is the story of what happened to the people in the Twin Towers on 9-11.  Reading this book led me to read about Flight 93.

Flight 93 was the plane that didn’t hit the Twin Towers, or the Pentagon. It was purposefully and heroically diverted from hitting the Capitol Building or the White House.  Instead of hitting one of these two choices, the plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field. By crash landing in a field, countless lives were saved and history changed in an instant.

The passengers  and crew of Flight 93 did something brave and spectacular that day.  Do you want to guess how many passengers and crew there were on that fateful day on September 11?  FORTY!!!! Yes, I couldn’t believe it myself. I love the way God works because I did not know this until the very day I heard my husband talking about the meaning behind quarantine, which means forty days.  Later in the day I just happen to read chapter 6, which mentions there were 40 passengers and crew.  There were 4 hijackers as well so if we add them in, it makes 44. But, they are not the ones who will be tested in a way no one could have imagined!  It is the 40 passengers and crew that stare at evil in the face who will do something amazing.  It is those 40 people who will go through a trial most of us will never experience.  I knew there was a timely message in this story!

The 40 passengers of Flight 93 would be tested

On September 11, 2001, 33 passengers and 7 crew members boarded Flight 93. They had no idea what trial would face them on that plane. They came from all walks of life, traveling for different reasons.  As the book Flight 93 says, “They were forty people traveling on a Tuesday morning, just living their lives” (Flight 93, p. 55).

The passengers of Flight 93 didn’t know the terrorists who would board their plane had just “defeated all the security layers that America’s civil aviation system then had in place to prevent a hijacking (Flight 93, p 65).

They didn’t know that Mohamed Atta had carefully selected their flight because he knew it would have a heavy fuel load.  This flight was supposed to last a little over six hours, so the tank carried more than enough fuel to create “maximum destructive power.”  Even the seating of the terrorists had been carefully planned.  “A two-man team was assigned to sit side by side near the front of first class, ready to storm the cockpit and kill or disable the pilots when the signal was given” (Flight 93, p.65).

The forty passengers and crew did not know these things when they boarded the plane. But, God knew because he knows every trial that will enter our lives.

The interesting thing is that many passengers on the plane were not supposed to be on the flight.  Schedules, appointments and life itself had altered many of their plans, putting them on THIS FLIGHT.  “More than ten of the passengers who boarded Flight 93 that morning had been booked on other flights, or made last minute calls to reserve their seats”(Flight 93, p 77).

The passengers did not know what was about to happen, but neither did the terrorists! The terrorists could not fathom how God would use those forty passengers to change the trajectory of that plane.  This is also true for situations in our lives, including viruses like Covid-19. What the enemy plans for evil, God can use for GOOD!

Here’s what I find rather amazing about passengers of Flight 93. There were many strong athletes on the plane.  The list included a national rugby champion, a brown belt in karate, a weight lifter, two wrestlers, a skydiver, a swimmer, a sprinter, a black belt in Judo, and a  hockey player to name a few.  There were also at least six passengers who had served in the U.S. military.  Even more curious is the fact that many of the passengers were large and strong.

“Jeremy Glick, the 6’1″, 220 pound judo champ, would have stood out as a formidable opponent. So, too, would Joey Nacke, the 5’9″, 200-pound barrel-chested weight lifter; Todd Beamer, the 6 foot, 200 pound multi-sport collegiate ; Alan Beaven, the 6’3″, 205-pound former Scotland Yard prosecutor…” (Flight 93, p 79).  Amazingly enough, seated right behind two of the hijackers was the 6’4″, 220 pound rugby player Mark Bingham, and Tom Burnett, a 6’2″, 205 pound former high school quarterback!

Now, if you ask me, this isn’t by chance that all these kinds of people were on the plane. Certainly, they were the perfect mix for the trial (the time of testing) that lay ahead.  Ultimately, God knew the passengers were up for the challenge, even if the passengers didn’t know it yet.   As Psalm 31:15 says, “My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.”

Flight 93 took off from Newark International Airport in New Jersey from Terminal A, Gate 17, bound for San Francisco International Airport.  The flight time was 6 hours and 14 minutes, due to arrive at 11:14 a.m., Pacific Time. The passengers didn’t know that time would be cut short. They didn’t know their plane would be redirected by terrorists, Hell-bent on crashing their plane into the Capital building or the White House.  But, God knew.  The gate they left from, Gate 17, was a small hint of the victory God would lay before them. In the Bible, 17 is the number of victory.   The victory would be bittersweet, but a victory nonetheless.  Their times were certainly in his hands.

At 9:28 a.m. the atmosphere of the plane would change dramatically, and the passengers would realize their test had begun.  Hijackers wearing red bandanas would jump out of their seats, rushing to the cockpit with unhindered force.  “At 9:28 a.m., air traffic control heard the first chilling sounds of the battle in the cockpit.”

Air traffic controllers could hear “Mayday!……….. hey, get out of here!”  The sounds of struggle continued with voices shouting, “Get out of here!…….get out here…..get out of here!”  Screaming and fighting could be heard in the background. Then the plane would drop 680 feet in 30 seconds.

By 9:31 an unfamiliar accented voice could be heard which said, “Ladies and gentlemen: Here the captain. Please sit down- keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board. So, sit.”  The hijacker spoke in broken English, but his message was clear. However, he had meant for this message to go the passengers, but it went to air traffic control instead.

The Time of Testing Had Arrived

The passengers  already knew something was dreadfully wrong. This was not the age of cell phones, so they weren’t grabbing cell phones to text and contact others through social media, etc.  They did, however, have the ability to make air to ground phone calls using a specific kind of phone called the Verizon Airfone.  Within 30 minutes of the hijacking, at least 12 people made 35 calls from the Airfones. Because of “spotty communication” only 15 got through, but there were just enough to relay crucial information.

Todd Beamer and Flight 93

Passenger Todd Beamer was able to connect to a GTE-Verizon call center in Chicago, where his call was transferred to supervisor Lisa Jefferson.

“Can you explain to me in detail exactly what’s taking place?” Mrs. Jefferson asked.

Todd proceeded to tell her the plane had been hijacked and two of the hijackers had knives. One had what looked like a bomb strapped to his waist.  He explained the curtain between first class and coach had been closed, so the passengers could not see what was happening.  Todd also said two injured people were lying on the floor of first class. (This information came from Cee Cee Lyles- a flight attendant, who was now sitting next to Todd. She had been ordered to sit down by the hijackers).

In the middle of Todd’s call, the plane took a plunge, causing him to say, “Oh my God, we’re going down! We’re going down! Jesus help us!”  At this time Lisa Jefferson could hear screams in the background.

I’m sure you noticed Todd called out to Jesus in his time of need- in his time of testing!  That is what we should do as well.  This doesn’t mean complete deliverance from the situation, but rather Jesus will give us what we need to endure it, and as you will see soon, he will give us what we need to FIGHT!

Todd again cries out to God.  He said, “Oh my God, Jesus!”

In a few moments, the plane goes back up. and Todd says, “No, wait. We’re coming back up…..I think we are okay now” (Flight 93, p 95).

Now the next part you read should give you pause. It should remind you of a powerful truth during a TRIAL or TIME OF TESTING.

The Lord’s Prayer

Todd asks Lisa to recite the Lord’s Prayer with him.  Lisa faithfully recites this prayer with Todd.

I’d like to point out something here. The fact that Lisa Jefferson even knew the Lord’s Prayer is evidence God had his hand in this time of testing. For her to know the prayer by memory………..for her to have the calmness and fortitude to recite it during this extreme time of stress, is a testament to the realization that GOD WILL PROVIDE US WITH WHAT WE NEED WHEN WE NEED IT.  Lisa Jefferson, a complete stranger, is what Todd Beamer needed at that moment.

Here is what was recited of the Lords’ Prayer:  Perhaps you should say it now also, especially if fears of the coronavirus or some other calamity are taking hold of you.

Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom 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. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, And the glory, forever, Amen.  (The Lord’s Prayer comes from Luke 11: 2-4 and Matthew 6:9-13.)

They Recited the 23rd Psalm

Todd and Lisa also prayed the 23rd Psalm together, which describes Jesus being our Shepherd through times of crisis.  Here are a few lines from Psalm 23-  “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.”

THY WILL BE DONE

If you examine the Lord’s prayer carefully, notice it says, “THY WILL BE DONE.” What this means is that we accept what Jesus’ will is for us at that moment.  This does not guarantee our lives will be spared. What it means is that THE WILL OF THE LORD WILL COME TO PASS- NOT OUR WILL.  Sometimes, this means death in the midst of trial. This will be the case for all of the 40 passengers, and 4 hijackers aboard Flight 93. But, the will of God will do something quite extraordinary, and the effect will have far reaching consequences for America.

When Jesus died on the cross the enemy thought he had won. What the enemy didn’t know is that Jesus’ death would blow Satan’s plans to smithereens.  His death would save all who receive him as Savior. Keep in mind when Jesus prayed in the Garden before his crucifixion he said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will , but yours be done.”

Notice he says, “NOT MY WILL, BUT YOURS.”

The fact that Todd and Lisa call out to the Lord through prayer is a grand lesson to us all. May we call upon him during our times of need and crisis, and accept his will, whatever it may be.

A Plan is Made: The Passengers of Flight 93 will fight back

In the midst of the ensuing crisis, a plan was being forged by the passengers, which included Todd Beamer.  Several of the passengers had been alerted though Airfone calls, that the Pentagon and World Trade Center Towers had been hit.  Suddenly, there was the realization that THEIR PLANE, FLIGHT 93, could be used to hit another target.

Passenger Tom Burnett said to his wife Deena, “We’ve got to do something”.  His wife asked who would help him. He said, “Different people. Several people. There’s a group of us.”

Passenger Jeremy Glick was talking to his wife and said, “There’s three guys as big as me and we’re thinking of attacking the guy with the bomb.”  Jeremy made a small joke by saying he may use his butter knife as a weapon.

Todd Beamer, still speaking to Lisa Jefferson, said, “A few of us passengers are getting together. I think we’re going to jump the guy with the bomb” (Flight 93, p99).

Lisa Jefferson asked Todd if he was sure that’s what he wanted to do.

Todd said, “Yes, I’m going to have to go out on faith. At this point, I don’t have much of a choice.”

Did you notice what Todd said?  He said he would have to go out on FAITH.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

For Such a Time As This

Did Todd and the other passengers know if their plan would work? Did they know how the hijackers would react? Did they know they could perish?  The truth is THEY DID NOT KNOW.  BUT GOD KNEW.  GOD KNEW THIS TRIAL/TEST WAS COMING EVEN WHEN THEY WERE IN THEIR MOTHER’S WOMBS. HE SET THEM APART FOR “SUCH A TIME AS THIS.”

COVID-19- FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS

This verse from Esther is a great reminder to us all as we realize that God ordains the days and trials of our lives.  We are living during a turbulent time right now where COVID-19 is ravaging our nation. But remember that God knew this was coming before you ever set foot on the ground. He is the Alpha and the Omega- he knows your beginning and end.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” Esther 4:14.

This verse is referring to Queen Esther, who was in a position to save her people, the Jews. But she had to act. She couldn’t sit back and let fear rule her life. She had to do something.  Realizing her actions were risky, she later said, “IF I PERISH, THEN I PERISH.”  She would act, even if it led to her death. She was accepting the will of God and not her own will.

Todd Beamer and the rest of the passengers had to act as well.  It was their “such a time as this” moment.   They knew they could perish, but they accepted that fate. They acted on faith -no matter what it would bring.

The COVID-19 epidemic is our “such a time as this” moment as well.  How will we respond? Will we react in fear? Will we hide our faces in a pillow? Or will we act according to his will?  Like Todd Beamer, we must ACT IN FAITH, knowing Jesus has our times in his hands.

By 9:53 a.m. the hijackers had caught wind of a passenger revolt.  They had actually began their initial attack 15 minutes later than what they had originally planned.  Not only this, the plane had not taken off on time, but was instead delayed by 42 minutes. This gave the passengers time to receive messages from relatives about what was going on with the other planes.  This allowed them the opportunity to form a plan. Interestingly enough, there was even a passenger onboard who knew how to fly planes. In the event of the passengers being able to take over the plane, this passenger could become the pilot.   In addition, another passenger had been an air traffic controller so he could help direct them if needed.

We can see how God’s hand allowed for these delays for his purposes, and how he had the right kind of people to step into important roles.

We don’t know exactly how many passengers participated in the revolt against the terrorists. We know “flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw was at the back of the plane preparing to throw hot water on the the hijackers” (Flight 93, p. 101). She had phoned her husband and described the plan.

Jeremy Glick told his wife he was going to put the phone down and then come right back to it (after the revolt).  Tom Burnett told his wife not to worry and assured her, “we’re going to do something.”

At 9:53 passenger Elizabeth Wainio called her stepmother and said, “They’re getting ready to break into the cockpit. I have to go. I love you. Good-bye.”

At 9:58 Cee Cee Lyles called her husband and said, ” I think they’re going to do it.  Babe, they’re forcing their way into the cockpit….”

At approximately 10:00 a.m. Todd Beamer said the famous words we’ve come to associate with Flight 93 and 9-11.  

He said, “OK, LET’S ROLL!”

Sounds of a frantic struggle could be heard on the cockpit voice recorder.  The plane began jerking back and forth. The hijackers were trying to knock the passengers off their feet.  Then a command can be heard from a passenger saying, “In the cockpit. In the cockpit!”

The plane began diving.  The terrorists are heard saying, “There are some guys. All those guys.”

A passenger yells, “Let’s get them!”

Cries of pain and distress come from the hijackers. The plane moves erratically up and down.  The hijackers can be heard discussing crashing the plane before reaching the intended target.

One hijacker yells, “Oh Allah! Oh Allah, Oh gracious!”

The passengers continued trying to to break into the cockpit.  A few moments later you can hear a passenger yell, “Roll it”.  This is likely referring to a food cart as you can hear loud sounds of plates and glass crashing.

At 10:02 a passenger yells, “Turn it up!”  Seconds later you can hear a hijacker saying, “Down down. Pull it down! Pull it down!”    This may have been the passengers and hijackers struggling over control of the plane.

Next, you can hear a hijacker say, “Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me!”

At this point, Flight 93 was literally falling out of the sky as it plummeted toward rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

At 10:03 a.m. you can hear a hijacker say, “Allah is the Greatest! Allah is the Greatest! Allah is the Greatest!”

FLIGHT 93 CRASHES

The plane violently crashed into a field near Indian Lake and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It crashed in a field near a reclaimed coal strip mine, also known as the Diamond T Mine.  The plane plummeted at a FORTY degree angle.  Remember the number 40? Even the plane bears the mark of this testing as it crashed toward the ground.  The plane headed toward the ground at a speed of 560-580 miles per hour UPSIDE DOWN!

Can you imagine being a passenger on the plane? Not only are you taking a sweeping, heart-stopping nose dive, but you are also upside down! Imagine the passengers who had rushed the cockpit.  They would have been thrown in every direction.

As soon as the plane hit ground, it exploded on impact as 5500 gallons of jet fuel ignited. Nearby residents describe the sound as being similar to dynamite exploding, or crushing thunder.  A fireball of approximately 75 feet flashed in the air.  Windows rattled and broke, doors flew off hinges, and objects fell from shelves in nearby homes.  Houses were shifted off their foundations. One resident said he saw the plane “flash silver in the sun before it struck the ground.”

The Wreckage of Flight 93

The first responders described a crater about 15 feet deep and about 30 feet across.  “The tops of the trees near the crater were burned.  The plane itself was difficult to find. It had been blown apart.  The front of the plane- including the cockpit- sheared off, broke part, and sprayed into the hemlock trees.  The rest of it plowed into the dirt that had been transported there to fill in and ‘reclaim’ the old strip mine in the 1990’s. The fuselage and wings shattered…..”(Flight 93, p. 111).    The crash was so intense that pieces of the plane had been embedded as far as 35 feet below ground.

The Passengers of Flight 93 Took Life-Saving Actions

Even though the crash was horrifying, violent and devastating, the actions of the heroic passengers were life saving. The plane was destined to hit the Capitol building or the White House.  It did not hit either. Also, this plane went down in an open field. It just so happened there was a school and houses nearby, but the plane did not land in any populated area. It landed in the safest spot for a crash landing.  If the passengers had not acted in their time of testing, the story would have been much different.  They acted as a team to take down evil. The enemy’s plans were thwarted.

I can’t help but think of the Lord’s Prayer that Todd and Lisa recited where they said, “Deliver us from the evil one.”

These passengers took down evil. It fell right from the sky.  They acted and lives were saved, even though they lost their own in the process.

Ephesians 6:14 says: “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”  The King James Version actually says, “Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth.”

Girding your loins is what a soldier would do when they were preparing to fight.  During biblical times, men wore long tunics. Around the tunic they would wear a belt. When it came time to fight, they had to tuck the hem of the tunic into their belt/girdle so they wouldn’t trip, and could fight well.

The passengers fought and took down the terrorists. They tucked their tunics into their belts and they got to work!  As believers, we will face battles on a regular basis. In the case of COVID-19, the enemy is treacherous and frightening. But, we have what it takes in Christ to pass the test before us. We have the belt of truth which says he is with us in every trial and test. That should be enough for us to have the courage to fight and not be fearful.

toilet paperThe question is, how will we respond?  Are we going to complain and bicker about how much toilet paper we have? You have to admit it’s pretty symbolic.   It makes me think, “what are we placing our hope in? How is this whole situation going to change the hearts and minds of those who don’t know Jesus? How will it change us as Christians?”  As Todd Beamer says, “Are we ready to roll?”  No, I DON’T MEAN TOILET PAPER ROLLS!

I mean, are we ready to act on faith?  Are we ready to roll out on faith?????????

Lisa Jefferson, the operator who spoke with Todd Beamer had this to say in an interview.

“I wasn’t prepared for my test on September 11. I went on faith and made myself available. God is not concerned about your ability, but your availability.”

Wow! Isn’t that powerful?

Lisa Jefferson encouraged Todd Beamer from a phone, helping him feel confident enough to act on what God wanted him to do.  God wanted him to stop the terrorists. Yes, the plane went down, but think of the thousands of lives that were saved because Lisa, Todd and all the other passengers acted on FAITH.  They didn’t know how it would turn out, but they acted anyway.  They made themselves available to do what God needed them to do.

People need to hear the gospel during the COVID-19 crisis

Right now people will need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, we are subjected to social distancing, but that doesn’t mean we need to distance ourselves from how Jesus can use us. In fact, Jesus’ power goes beyond any social distancing. He can use you through a phone call, just like he used Lisa Jefferson.  He can use you through a text. He can use you through a card, or on FaceTime.  Like Lisa Jefferson said, just be available.

Two Bibles were found at the wreckage of Flight 93

I was almost done researching the information for this blog when I found out something amazing about Flight 93.  There were two Bibles found at the wreckage of Flight 93 and these Bibles were in remarkably good condition.  One Bible, belonging to Donald Peterson, was singed, but none of the pages were burned.  This is quite miraculous because the explosion and fireball emitted from the jet fuel and crash incinerated most objects, including the bodies.

The Bible, belonging to Donald Peterson, was described as being in good condition, but “worn out”. You could tell it had been used.   Donald took Flight 93 with his wife Jean on September 11, not knowing it would be their last.  In fact, they had taken an earlier flight, hoping to get to Yosemite National Park sooner than planned.

Don and his wife had dedicated their life to Jesus. Don counseled men struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.  Jean counseled women in crisis pregnancies.  They were a couple who served the Lord faithfully through their local church.  Not only was Don’s Bible found, but also a handwritten list of the men he was praying for at the time.

Spreading the gospel can be a test

This begs the question………. how are we serving Christ? How are we showing his love to others? How are we serving others and spreading the gospel?  Just spreading the gospel is a test all of its own.  It can be hard to do.  We may be rejected.  People may poke fun at us.  How we respond is a true testament to who we are as Christians.

I don’t know if Don and Jean were part of the group that rushed the cockpit. But, from reading descriptions of their life I can see they helped others face the trials and tests of their lives by counseling them. The fact that Don had his worn out Bible on the plane and the list of the men he was praying for, reminds us of what he valued.  You know, we can carry around our hand sanitizer, or we can carry our Bible.  Personally, I believe the Bible is more powerful, don’t you? I’m not saying don’t sanitize. My point is that sometimes we forget the one thing that can truly save us is the ONE WHO MADE US and his word and presence is the ultimate weapon.

In John 19:11, Jesus says to Pilate, “You would have no power if it were not given to you from above.”   See the 911 in John 19:11?

Jesus is declaring that God is in charge of everything. Man does not have control.  In the case of  the attacks on 9-11, God was in control of all the events.  The 911 of God doesn’t always mean we escape trials and tests, but it does mean we know he is in it with us, and his perfect will unfolds in the middle of it. Ultimately, enemies have no power over us, but God can choose what he allows in our lives.  But we can be sure he will provide us with a way to stand through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus knockingRight before Jesus died on the cross he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30) .In Greek, the words are translated as telestai. This word telestai is an accounting term that meant a debt was paid in full.  When Jesus died on the cross for your sins, he was saying there was nothing left to be paid.  HE PAID IT ALL FOR YOU.  To receive this amazing gift, you must receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. You admit you are a sinner and that you need Jesus to save you. You confess that he died for your sins and paid for them in full.  You confess he rose from the dead and defeated death for you!  It’s as simple as that. The gift is yours. All you have to do is receive!

None of us know for sure how our lives will end. Likely, they will not end in a plane crash like Flight 93. But, it could be anything. Should we fear COVID-19 ending our lives? Technically, it’s a possibility as we are faced with a pandemic, but it’s not something we should mediate on and worry about.  As I said before, “our times are in his hands.” This means Jesus holds our future. He holds our trials and tribulations.  The most important things we can do is ACT when we are called upon. We must spread the gospel. And we must live by faith, no matter what’s going on.

Psalm 91: Dwelling in the Shelter of the Most High

Remember, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High, dwells under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1.  You can see the 911 in Psalm 91:1. When we dwell with Jesus, we are essentially under his protective hand.  We are under his wings. Even if there’s a disease or pestilence approaching, we can say with utmost confidence that “under his wings we will find refuge”, and “his faithfulness will be our shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4).

Todd Beamer dwelled in the shelter of the Most High

I can tell from Todd Beamer’s words and actions that he was dwelling in the shelter of the Most High during the final descent of Flight 93.  Some would say, “How horrible it must have been. What a tragic death.”  It was certainly a harrowing experience. But Todd  was under the wings of his creator, even when that plane crashed upside down into the earth. He was in a plane soaring on man-made wings, yet it was crashing to the ground.  Immediately Jesus took over and took Todd under HIS WINGS-  and he was taken instantly into glory. What a picture to imagine!  And I am sure Jesus said, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”  What beautiful words those must have been.

In the end, that’s what we are looking forward to.  These times of testing and tribulation are leading to one  glorious realization…………..WE WILL STAND BEFORE JESUS, bearing the scars of what we’ve endured, and what we’ve done for his kingdom.  And the trials of this life will fade into the background as we step into the place he has prepared for us.  Even death is a WIN because we do not taste eternal death, but receive eternal life.

more joshua treesBy the way, were you wondering why I chose to put a funny looking tree as the picture header for my post?  I chose the Joshua Tree as my post photo because it’s an odd, prickly spectacle for the eyes.  Actually it looks like a tree, but it’s really a type of yucca plant.  It grows only in the Mojave desert and survives on very little water. These trees may only grow 1/2 – 3 inches per year.  Despite the challenges these “trees” face, you can see them everywhere throughout the desert, with their unusual hand-like branches extending in all different directions. This tree reminded me of how we should be in times of testing and trials. Like the branches of the Joshua tree, we must extend out hands out to Jesus, drawing on his strength and wisdom.  It may be hot and dry, with little water to be found. But, we only need the Living Water (Jesus) to sustain us.  We can survive in the desert, or the Arctic, and yes, even quarantined in our homes, if we have Jesus.  And guess what? The name Joshua is actually a form of the name Jesus!   Jesus’ Hebrew name is Yeshua and this is a form of the name Yehoshua, which is JOSHUA in English.

“Blessed is the person whose delight is in the Law of the Lord……that person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” Psalm 1:2,3.

And guess what else????  The tallest tree in Joshua Tree National Park in California is 40 feet tall!  I did not even know this until after I chose this tree to be my post header/picture.  Forty is the number of testing.  It’s the number of trials. But in Jesus, forty is the number of victory!

I’m going to officially end this blog post with my favorite lines from the movie, “Lord of the Rings.”

Frodo, a small hobbit, is tasked with saving Middle Earth. His burden is heavy, and his task is nearly impossible.  The trials and tests he’s faced have brought him to the brink of exhaustion, death and hopelessness.

Frodo says to Gandalf, “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”

Gandalf answers, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

The same goes for us right here, right now. We certainly do not want to live in the time of  COVID-19 and other trials, but that is not for us to decide.  All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us…………….

me holding boulder
Let’s Roll everyone!!!

 

Resources:

Flight 93: The Story, The Aftermath, and The Legacy- By: Tom McMillan

Flight 93 National Park Service: Guide of Frequently Asked Questions about Flight 93

Article/interview with Lisa Jefferson

Article about Donald Peterson

The Holy Bible: NIV and NLT version

Strong’s Concordance and Blue Letter Bible

 

 

 

 

 

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