Sujo John was working on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001. At 8:04 a.m., he wrote an e-mail about his fear of becoming a mediocre Christian. At 8:46 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into his building between the 94th and 98th floors. At 10:03 a.m. John cleared the building just before it imploded. In the midst of this, John exercised freedom to shout: "Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved!" Mediocrity ended.
In "Simply Effective: How to Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done," Ron Ashkenas tells managers to avoid whitewashing expectations and failing to establish consequences. In plain words: Tell them what you want and what will happen if they don't give it to you. Hardline advice? Maybe, but God set the precedent.
Herman Melville wrote in "Moby Dick" (1851): "All the things that God would have us do are hard for us to do, remember that, and hence, He oftener commands us than endeavors to persuade. And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists." That's not the run-of-the-mill fish story.
Whether we believe our lives are called to serve God or not, no one escapes having to do something they would rather not do. We put ourselves in danger when uncontrolled emotions override will and intellect. Angry, fearful people surround us, many as outraged and hate-filled as Captain Ahab pursuing his whale. In February 2009 the Journal of the American College of Cardiology published research showing that even recalling an infuriating situation caused spikes in the EKGs of certain patients.
Having the good sense either to embrace or reject the job description handed us by the business manager or Universe Director is prudent. Entering covenant is one thing; being controlled is another. Atheists of Florida launched a Web site in mid-2009 to do things like discuss current events and offer volunteer opportunities sans religion. A larger national group of atheists and agnostics, however, overstepped their bounds when they filed a lawsuit in July 2009 to block an architect from engraving "In God We Trust" and the Pledge of Allegiance at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.
September has been designated National Preparedness Month by the Department of Homeland Security. The state of Kentucky referenced "dependence on Almighty God" in the law that created the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security. That phrase has been challenged. Judge Thomas Wingate has ruled that it is one thing to trust God but quite another to be ordered to rely on His protection during an emergency.
If disaster strikes, I'd rather follow Sujo John out of the building. He has been tested and his words regarding 9/11 bear weight: "God didn't cause it to happen, but He allowed it to happen. He wanted to get America's attention" (Charisma, September 2009). He did not question the God who said: "And I am come down to deliver them..." (Exodus 3:8). Those running across the bridge out of New York City that day were not chasing stuff, whether possessions or philosophies. They sought deliverance.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together - side-by-side.