"Small Choices, Saved Lives"

Image source: NY Daily News
That’s part of the title of an article about the “near misses of 9/11” posted on the CNN International Edition website. “Every day, people make thousands of small, forgettable decisions – what to eat, when to take a break, which route to take to work. But for a handful of people on September 11, 2001, those seemingly inconsequential decisions… made the difference between living and dying.” [1]

Greer Epstein. Image source: CNN
Greer Epstein, an executive director at Morgan Stanley, took a rare cigarette break. She recounted that fateful day, “I never took a break before noon… It was something that happened that day. And thank God for it. I was safely out of the building when the plane hit. A fireball went through my office. Had I been sitting there, who knows what would've been?” Jokingly, she said her mother never picked on her about smoking again. But seriously, since that near miss at 9/11, she never let her work dictate her life. “My life was my job. Until I was laid off, I worked for them for almost 20 years. Everything was about your work. I didn’t take vacations. Now I tell people, ‘Don’t put it off. Take your vacation. Take your time with family.’”
Elise O’Kane. Image source: CNN
Elise O’Kane, United Airlines flight attendant, “when scheduling her flights for September on the airline’s computer system, she accidentally inverted two code numbers and wound up with the wrong schedule.” So instead of a Los Angeles route, she ended up with a Denver route. She was so upset. Yet, if she did not commit that code blunder, she would have been on Flight 175, the plane that hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Shockingly, when she learned that that mistake saved her life, she was overcome with guilt. “Why me – out of all those wonderful people? What have I done? I’m not a saint or angel.” She found it hard to accept that God may still have a plan for her. But she had to move on. “I need to give back and fulfill myself. Something has changed inside me.” O’Kane decided to become a nurse. Though she went back to work at United Airlines, whenever she would receive emails from former patients, thanking her for her soothing service during their recovery, she feels so fulfilled: “It’s almost like a confirmation.”

All of us made choices that we felt at that time were a mistake or simply trivial. But, as we look back and as we see the big picture, we now see that it made a difference in our lives. I enrolled in Far Eastern University only because my girlfriend at that time was studying there. When we broke up, I felt stuck there. But it was in that college where I met my best friend, Jesse Dedel, who shared with me the Good News and encouraged me to receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior. Now, we are both pastors. Truly, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV)

My take? God uses our choices (big or small) to shape us.

[1] http://edition.cnn.com/2011/US/09/03/near.death.decisions/index.html?iref=obnetwork


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