Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Peace in the Midst of Terror

CBN.com -It was 5:00 a.m., Saturday, September 8, 2001. My husband and I loaded our luggage into our friend's Isuzu Trooper and settled in for a two-week vacation to New England.

The four of us bowed our heads and held hands as we prayed for God's protection and guidance during our trip. Then we backed out of the driveway while most of our neighbors were still asleep.

We awoke on Tuesday morning to sunshine in Washington, D.C. and prayed together as we did every morning before going out for the day. Leaving the car at the motel, we walked two blocks to a fast-food restaurant for breakfast and the nearest bus stop. It promised to be an exciting day of sight-seeing in our nation's capital.

After breakfast, we caught the bus to the Metro subway system which took us to the center of Washington, D.C. and the White House. A tour guide standing outside the grounds approached and asked if we would like a tour of the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery.

"I can have you back in forty-five minutes," he said. "By then, the line to the White House will be shorter and you won't have to wait so long."

Our husbands kept walking, but my friend and I stopped to listen to his sales pitch. We were interested in a guided tour instead of making it on our own. But after a few minutes, we followed our mates who seemed impatient to get to the White House.

When we found the end of the line, which stretched on forever, the security officer on duty told us it would be an hour-and-a-half before we would get inside. Excitement permeated the air around us as people laughed and talked with each other. But before I had time to enjoy the scenery, I heard an explosion behind me. Turning around, I saw a large mushroom of smoke rising in the distance.

It must have been some kind of chemical explosion, I thought. Looking toward the White House, I saw what seemed like a tidal wave of people running toward us.

"Move back," someone shouted. I turned in the direction of the voice to see a security officer directing people toward the street. "Clear the area, it's been canceled," he said.

In mere seconds, the air around us filled with sirens, shouting and police whistles. Vehicles and pedestrians crowded the street together. Uniformed officers shouted at people to move quickly. In all the confusion, I became separated from the others, but I kept my husband and our two friends in sight. When I caught up to them, we hurried down the street and away from the White House.

After a few minutes, we stopped to consult our map. If the tour was canceled, we needed to get back to the subway and our motel. While the men discussed the map, a middle-aged woman of Asian descent stopped in front of me.

"I just got a call on my cell phone," she said. "The Pentagon has been bombed." She hurried away.

Disbelief swept over me. How was this possible? We all looked at each other with concern written on our faces. We didn't know our way around, and we didn't know what might happen next. I felt so thankful we hadn't accepted the tour guide's offer to go to the Pentagon first.

"If people back home are watching this on television, they're probably worried about us," my friend said. I reached inside my purse for our cell phone. We already had four voice mails. Someone was trying to reach us. I tried to retrieve them, but it was useless. I dialed a familiar number to let someone know we were okay, but the phone went dead.

Planes rumbled overhead. A finger of fear crept up my spine. Were we being attacked from the air? A police officer looked up also, with fear spreading across his face.

"It's okay," my husband said. "They're our planes."

The crowds expanded. All the buildings in the area had been evacuated and people streamed out the doors to join us in the street. Traffic stalled. One man sat in his car in the middle of the street, talking on a cell phone. A policeman kept yelling at him to move his car. The man seemed oblivious to the shouting officer who began beating on the roof of the car to get the man's attention.

We started walking again, not knowing if we were going in the right direction or not. But as we did, I sensed calm overtake the four of us. I no longer felt afraid. I could feel God's peace within.

We stopped once again to study the map and discuss our situation. We had no idea where to find safety. While we talked, two men and a woman stopped beside us. We all spoke at once. "We're trying to get to the subway."

"The subways are closed," the young woman said. "Just keep walking north out of the city." They moved on. The whole situation seemed so surreal. We were like characters in a science fiction movie, but the peace I felt encouraged me to keep my faith in God who was in control of our situation. He knew where we were and what was happening around us.

"Do you need help?" I turned to see a neatly-dressed, young woman in a navy business suit. "We're
trying to get to the subway, but we've been told they're closed."

"Where are you going?" she asked. "Back to our motel in Capitol Heights."

"I believe that station will still be open," she said. "That's where I'm going. You can walk with me."

Grateful for her kindness, we followed her for what seemed like an hour, but in reality had been mere minutes. Reaching the station, we punched our tickets and boarded the subway.

Back in our motel rooms, we turned on the television. Only then did we find out what had happened in Washington, Pennsylvania, and New York that morning. Later, I marveled again at the peace and calm which had existed among the four of us during the confusion and chaos, and the strangers who had stopped to help us.

I knew without a doubt God's protecting hand had been with us. A scripture came to mind as I recalled the morning's events.

"And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds though Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7, KJV).

God had certainly kept our hearts from filling with terror and our minds clear as we were caught up in the awful events of September 11, 2001.

This article by Vickie Phelps was orginially published in Journey, (Lifeway publication), in July 2002.


Can God change your life?

God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can also send us your prayer requests.

We encourage users who wish to comment on our material to do so through our CBN Facebook page.

Loading Webform

Can We Pray For You?

Error: There was an internal error submitting your form. Please check your information and try again or call us at 1-800-759-0700

Get FREE "He Cares for You" teaching sheet

Build up your faith as you meditate on inspiring Scripture verses of how much God loves you

Get more than a Sunday sermon. Get to know others seeking God’s guidance and wisdom for life.
We are here to help and encourage you! Send a prayer request now, or call 1‑800‑700‑7000
Can God change your life? God made it possible for you to know. Discover God's peace now.
Download the free myCBN app. Share your prayer requests, receive prayer and pray for others!
Living the Christian life is a journey. Discover steps to bring you closer to Christ.
Get Email Updates
Give Now