There are defining moments in life. Some we recognize as they come, and others only through the rearview mirror of life. Either way, such times change forever the way we understand the world. Every generation has them and most are so indelible that time can be marked by such watershed events. Where were you when you heard World War II was over? Where did you watch the first man walk on the moon? What were you doing when Kennedy was shot? What were you doing when the towers fell on 9/11?
To experience all such historic moments links you in an inseparable way to every other soul whose life was somehow marked by that event. In February of 2003 time stopped again for many Americans as the space shuttle Columbia fell from the sky.
Around the country and around the world, news of the horrifying event made a Many, from that day forward, would be able to answer, “Where were you when Colombia fell?” Incredibly, for those of us in East Texas, our stories are different. They are personal. We didn’t see it on the news or hear about it in the paper. We were shaken awake by it. We came face to face with it in our yards and along our streets. We were part of it.
Still wondering ourselves what it all meant, the world turned to hear from us, with the most unlikely of our citizens called upon to be a witness to the whole world. What did it sound like? What did you see? How did you feel? Just as we are, with drawls and accents and grammar that isn’t always perfect, stories unfolded about the destruction that would leave mere scraps of man’s ingenuity littering the landscape.
Throughout East Texas stories emerged of people from all walks who were not satisfied to be mere observers. Instead, they took seriously the charge that fell upon us. From community leadership and law enforcement, to citizens who guarded shuttle debris in their own yards, no one shrank back. With respect, with fervent prayer, with practical help and with graciousness, East Texans shouldered what many consider a sacred trust for the entire country. It’s been 17 years, but this community, who shared in the event, remains history’s witnesses.
In a small way, the experience illustrates a much greater bond that those in Christian community share. We, too, are bound by one significant moment in history: the horrible magnificent events that took place at a cross on a hill in a far distant land.
“(Jesus Christ) although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself…And being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:4
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
For those who experience the watershed event of the cross of Christ personally, being part of it through faith that brings reconciliation, we share a sacred trust – to be His-story witnesses from that day forward.
Kim Wier is an author and speaker, and hosts a weekly radio talk program on KSBJ in Houston.