On September 11, nearly 10 years ago, while many of us cried in front of our T.V. sets, Lauren Manning found herself fighting for her life.
She was running late that day as she entered the lobby of the North tower and approached the bank of elevators. Her office with Canter Fitzgerald was on the 105th floor.
It was while she was still moving towards the elevators that she felt the building move. Then, a wall of fire burst through the elevator shafts and engulfed her.
Burned over 82 percent of her body, Laura Manning fought for her life for three long months.
Unmeasured Strength is her dramatic story. Wanting desperately to live to see the face of her ten-month-old son again, she determined to do whatever it took to recover. No matter the odds. No matter the pain.
This week, as I’ve reflected on the coming anniversary of such an infamous day, I’ve been deeply touched by her story. She not only wanted to live to return to her family. She wanted to live on behalf of nearly 700 coworkers who had died.
That awful day, she had shared both the terror and the pain of the fallen. And in the weeks and months that followed, while her life hung in the balance, she felt the love and support of their families.
She could not give up. People around the world were praying for her.
So she fought fiercely to deny the terrorists even one more victory.
It’s a story every American should read.
* * *
My Own Reflections
At 14, 12, and 7, my own boys are watching the 911 anniversary coverage with a new depth of understanding.
Perhaps that’s an oxymoron. How can anyone possibly understand such horror?
Yet, Lauren’s story has powerfully reminded me that even in the face of unspeakable evil, God’s grace abounds.
There is no doubt that Lauren’s own strength and courage played a huge role in bringing her through her incredible ordeal.
However, I believe it was God’s grace that spared her life, orchestrated her transport before the buildings collapsed, and saw her through some of her darkest days.
I believe it was also by God’s grace (and not simply good luck) that her husband wasn’t lost that day. He had planned to attend a breakfast at Windows of the World, and instead, he stayed home to help a neighbor.
I’ve heard other stories of God’s grace as well.
Yes, there is undeniable evil in the world. And although evil men determined to wipe out masses that day, God’s grace rescued many.
Whether, as in Lauren’s case, He brought them out of the flames, or as in her husband’s case, He allowed circumstances to prevent them from being in harms way, the result was the same.
God’s grace gave some a second chance at life. Why those and not others? We may never know.
But for some of those people, it was the chance to go on serving God with a stronger determination and urgency. For others, it was a chance to make the decision of faith they had been putting off.
My prayer this year, as we commemorate 911, is that those events would cause us, each one of us, to look at our relationship with God.
Whether we choose to see it or not, God’s grace is active throughout our lives. Maybe not in the dramatic kind of way that Lauren experienced. But it is there nonetheless in many little things.
Do I respond to Him with appreciation for the work He does in my life?
More importantly, do I thank Him for the sacrifice He made me, as well as for every human being, when He gave His life on the cross? At enormous personal cost, He embodied grace, took my place, and made it possible for me to have all my wrongs forgiven and wiped away. He made it possible to know for certain I have a home forever with Him, no matter what befalls me here on Earth.This beautiful family has a second chance because of God’s grace. Many others did not.
I don’t know where Lauren is in her relationship with God. But I pray that He will continue to reveal Himself and His incredible grace with each new day she faces. And that if she doesn’t already, that she--and all of those touched by tragedy--will know God and feel His comfort.
Not just know God in the I-acknowledge-there-is-an-all-powerful-Being-up-there kind of way.
But in the I-have-an-infinitely-loving-savior-who-longs-to-be-a-central-part-of-my-life kind of way.
Lauren, your story and your courage are amazing. Please know that you and your family will remain in my thoughts and prayers. May God richly bless you.
Fine Print: I received a copy of Unmeasured Strength to review. However, when I agree to do a review, I share what I really think, whether good or bad. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”