Monday Minutes, With Pastor Chris McCool (September 18, 2023): “I’ll See You When You Get There”

On September 11, 2001, Brian Sweeney, a 38-year-old aeronautics consultant and former Navy pilot from Massachusetts, left these words in a voicemail to his wife:

“Jules, this is Brian. Listen, I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked. If things don’t go well, and it’s not looking good, I just want you to know that I absolutely love you. I want you to do good, go have good times — same to my parents and everybody — and I just totally love you … and I’ll see you when you get there.

A few minutes later, the plane he was on was intentionally crashed into the World Trade Center in the most deadly terrorist attack ever on American soil.

Each year, as I reflect on this horrible event, I am always reminded of Brian Sweeney’s words on that fateful day, especially the last part of his voicemail. In fact, those words never fail to bring me to tears! In the last few moments of his life, this man expressed in simple, poignant earnestness a heart of faith in the simple gospel message: “I’ll see you when you get there!”

Certainly, there is much more to the gospel message than just a promise to see our loved ones again. As we learn more and more about our Savior and what He did for us, we can rejoice even more deeply in the fact that He accomplished our salvation on the cross. We can savor the joys of being called from darkness into His marvelous light, into a life in Christ that is filled with peace and comfort! We can look forward with great hope and anticipation to the time we will be in heaven, not just with our loved ones, but with THE Beloved One! Many joys will attend us when we study the Scripture and learn more about the gospel.

But in its most basic form – in its simplest iteration – the gospel message tells us that death is not the end, and that life eternal awaits even those who perish in tragic events like 9/11. In a similar vein, I remember a story my brother related recently, about the death of our great-grandmother when he was a little boy.

My great-grandmother Lula Crowley came to live with my grandmother (her daughter) in the waning years of her life. During that time, my brother Tim became very close to her. She doted on him, and he spent a lot of time with her. He was a little fellow, only six years old when she died in 1977. In those days, the visitation for the deceased was held at home, and during that evening when everyone was coming by to express their condolences, my brother was standing at the casket, sobbing in his grief over her death. As he stood there crying, my grandmother reached over and hugged him, and said, “Don’t worry son, we will see her again!”

At that simple message of promise, hope blossomed in his little heart. The idea that this moment of death was not actually the end of our fellowship was uplifting to that little boy in a time of great grief! And while he had much, much more to learn about the details of the true gospel message, the simple statement of hope was enough to pick him up and set his mind a little bit at ease.

In the case of Brian Sweeney, I see such similar hope. Although I have no idea about his religious persuasion, his simple statement of promise displayed a faith in the grace of God that applies to every single one of His children. What grace we have in Christ! What a promise we have to cling to, the solid truth that Jesus paid the sin debt for every single one of His children, and they WILL be there when we get there! And more importantly, the One Who purchased our redemption will be there, and we will be with Him forevermore!

We should never forget that awful day some twenty-two years ago. We should continue to pray for God’s blessings upon the families of all those who lost loved ones that day. But more than that, we should remember and cling to the precious promise that, because of the finished work of Christ, we will see our loved ones again!

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor