This Is The Way, Walk in It: How Strong Is Your Tea Bag?

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How Strong Is Your Tea Bag?

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It's been said, "You never know how strong a tea bag is until you put it in hot water." On Sept. 11, 2001, America came to that boiling point. The United States was catastrophically struck in a series of surprise attacks by foreign invaders. Wall Street, the Pentagon and airspace over Pennsylvania became battlegrounds. Moments after those attacks occurred, before the smoke began to clear, the natural questions arose: What do we do now? How do we go about doing what must be done?

One man who stepped up to the plate and delivered the needed answers was New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Often at the center of controversy due to his personal life or his political agenda, Giuliani nonetheless created an entirely new impression overnight upon his fellow Americans and people around the world.

Suddenly, this man who had seemed arrogant, strident and aloof was everywhere throughout lower Manhattan offering comfort and encouragement to his fellow New Yorkers. With President Bush being kept out of possible harm's way on Air Force One, it was Giuliani who set the first tones of resurgence as he moved through the rubble of lower Manhattan with a New York fire department cap on his head. It was his voice of reassurance and comfort that first allowed us to know that New Yorkers could dig themselves out of what had befallen them. What inner strength allowed this man to carry on in a world seemingly gone mad?

Keeping calmer than everyone else

A part of the answer emerged in an interview on Dec. 16 with Tim Russert, the moderator of NBC's Meet the Press. Russert set the stage for the answer to come by describing a mayor who had reported to work very early on that fateful day. As the suicide pilots guided the jets into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the mayor and a part of his office staff immediately responded to the emergency. They came so quickly that they were momentarily trapped in the city's command bunker as debris fell from the second terrorist attack.

What allowed him to emerge in a war zone as the man who regalvanized New Yorkers and a nation? How was he able to carry on with such cool dispatch as the two tallest buildings in the city collapsed, thousands of New Yorkers died and hundreds of firefighters and police personnel vanished?

Giuliani's answer was simple and yet profound. He told Russert that he drew upon advice his father, Harold, had given him as a boy. He was told simply that in tough times, when everyone else might panic, it is important to keep just a little bit calmer than everyone else around you.

What a day to bring that lesson home. As people were jumping out of windows, buildings were crashing down around him and 300 of his own city's protective service personnel were losing their lives, the mayor took one simple lesson from his dad and turned the day around, not only for him, but also for many others. "Mayor Rudy" was behind the microphone answering every question with patience, thoroughness and a calm demeanor that allowed many to begin to make sense of the senseless.

But wait a minute! Everything's getting better, isn't it? Seemingly America has come together, the terrorist Osama bin Laden is either on the run or dead and the nations of the world step back in awe at America's military technology. Can't we just go back to how things were?

Yes, for the moment Afghanistan is quiet. Anthrax has not been in the news for over a month. And the remainder of the New York skyline is still standing. So let's move on. Right? Let's consider the times we live in.

The emerging world superpower of China is still emerging. The European Union, now anchored by the common currency of the euro, is slowly and steadily forming into a singular superpower, which increasingly is expressing its own agenda. India and Pakistan "saber rattle" with nuclear weapons close at hand before a skittish world. Israel and the Palestinians continue to stumble over the fate of the Holy Land. The whereabouts of certain elements of the former Soviet Union's nuclear materials elicits concern-are they in terrorists' hands? America's titillation with humanism continues in a downward spiral as we masquerade violence and pornography as entertainment.

Not only that, but what about the personal front pages in our lives, those large personal headlines that will dominate your family's life this year? The unexpected death of a loved one, the house that goes up in smoke, the job that no longer exists, the vehicle that gets totaled, the business deal that goes sour and the stocks that "go south." All the good things of life can collapse in minutes, if not seconds-our own personal World Trade Center towers knocked over in a time and manner not of our choosing.

I know of no one who deliberately sets his or her alarm clock for misfortune to strike; it arrives on its own schedule. Yes, it's going to be increasingly important to learn the inner quality of being calmer than the guy or gal next to you. How do we go about digging ourselves out of trial in a calm and deliberate manner?

"I am leaving you a gift"

Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul addressed this point in Philippians 4:6-7 Philippians 4:6-7 [6] Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. [7] And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
. He encouraged Christians, then and now, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." He goes on to encourage us with the results that will follow by stating, "and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

The kind of peace that Paul is describing cannot be purchased or obtained simply by knowing some "witty piece of advice." We discover that it is an incredible gift that is meant to guide us past any momentary setback that might affect our lives this coming year. The apostle John puts it this way in John 14:27 John 14:27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
American King James Version×
: "I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn't fragile like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid" (The Living Bible). The Life Application Bible further defines this gift: "Peace is resting in God's sovereignty.... Unlike worldly peace, which is defined as the absence of conflict, this peace is confident assurance in any circumstance...."

It is a peace that is centered on the reality that bad things can happen to good people just like in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. on Sept. 11. It is a peace that is based on the realization that 2,000 years ago a perfect Man was terrorized over one long night by others who invaded the territory of His life. It was a nightmare sequence of events that was all too real-for it was true. His crime-living perfectly!

How? By walking among the poor, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, saving hapless victims of wrong spiritual influences, picking up babes in His arms and blessing them. He helped people dig out of their own rubble and offered them peace and calm. But on that night of nights, His followers had the same heartsick feeling as the people of America did last September. Unlike the brave firemen of New York in the Sept. 11 disaster, they ran away from the fire rather than running towards the flame. How could they ever dig themselves out from such conditions? The ruins of their own lives were smoldering days later when the most incredible message was given to them.

Unexpectedly, the greatest news headline in human history and the greatest fulfillment of prophecy to that point had come about when they simply heard these three words, "He is risen" (Matthew 28:5-6 Matthew 28:5-6 [5] And the angel answered and said to the women, Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. [6] He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
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). It changed their viewpoint of events, and it can change ours. Consider these points in establishing an atmosphere of calm when the world seems to be coming down all around you.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ proclaims that the Kingdom of God has broken into human history by design. Now humanity is not headed for disaster but redemption. As Winston Churchill long ago acknowledged, "There is a purpose being worked out here below."

The resurrection of Jesus Christ offers us hope and amazingly deep perspective, even in great tragedy, that no matter what happens, no matter how heavy the stone, no matter how thick the veil-they will be removed.

The same power that brought Jesus Christ back from the dead is available to us even in our darkest hours, if we understand, sincerely believe and ask God for it.

This seminal event in human history gives the servants of God, then and now, the authoritative witness to proclaim peace within chaos, point to light within darkness and share quiet in a world that is screaming. The fact that "He is risen" allows the staff of this publication to move beyond the darkness of today's headlines and help shed light on the reality that this is not a world forsaken by God, but rather a world to which Jesus Christ is returning as Ruler, Lord and Master.

Like a clock in a thunderstorm

What's coming next as far as terrorism, assassinations, geopolitical turmoil and acts of nature or personal tragedies? I don't know and neither do you. But God says He has given us a gift-a peace of mind that comes by recognizing that our dead-ends as mortals are simply the beginning of God's greatest miracles. But gifts have to be opened up. They must be untied and put to use even under incredibly difficult circumstances. Over 100 years ago, Robert Louis Stevenson put to pen this amazing thought, "Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace like a clock during a thunderstorm."

Such a proverbial thunderstorm poured down on New York City on Sept. 11, but one man took the storm and transformed it from disaster to resurgence, not only for himself, but also for his city. In his discussion with Tim Russert we hear the echo of Isaiah 30:21 Isaiah 30:21And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
American King James Version×
: "This is the way, walk you in it." It is an echo that reverberates with the wisdom of one man's father, "Be a little calmer than the next guy." Mayor Rudy found out what was in his tea bag early on a September morning. The question remains, "How strong is your tea bag?" You're about to find out. And when you do, follow this advice, "Keep calmer than the person next to you."