September is a busy month for a teacher, and this September day was no exception. The moment I woke, thoughts of what I needed to accomplish filled my head. Aside from my normal teaching load at school, there were errands to run and people to call. Feeling the pressure of too much to do and too little time, I drove to school ticking off the many things I must accomplish before my head finally hit the pillow that night.
In the middle of a mid-morning math lesson, there was a knock on my classroom door. The principal and school nurse stood outside, beckoning me to join them. Setting my class to work on a set of problems, I ducked out of the room. My principal put hands like ice into mine. “We are under attack,” she informed me. “Both towers of the World Trade Center in New York City have been hit. All planes in the United States are being grounded. Parents are going to start arriving to take their children home. We are closing for the day, as soon as the children are picked up.”
Stunned, I tried to get my mind around what she was telling me. “Steve called from work and said to tell you he is fine, but they are closing down the government. He will make his way out of the city and get home eventually.” Now it was getting personal. Was my husband in danger in Washington, D.C.? It seemed like the whole world had suddenly gone under the shadow of a cloud. My teeth almost chattering, I shakily went back into my classroom, trying to decide what and how much I should tell my students. The world had changed in an instant. All of those tasks I was so worried about accomplishing that morning? I never gave them a second thought. Suddenly all that mattered was getting my kids and husband safely home and being together again.
We’ve all had those moments when everything changed. The minute we were pronounced husband and wife. Bringing a new life into the world. Hearing tragic news, like when Kennedy was assassinated. Learning of a fatal illness or a sudden death of a loved one. After those defining moments, the world has permanently morphed for us. We will never be the same.
Of all defining moments, the event with the most far-reaching affect was the instant that Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. With that first bite, the world was changed forever. The perfect creation God had so carefully orchestrated would never be the same, forever to groan under the burden of sin's curse. The crowning achievement of that creation, man and woman, who originally reflected His glory, were now running to hide their nakedness from Him. No longer would they meet with God in the evenings to walk the garden in fellowship. The relationship had changed forever.
In that one moment, hearing the crunch of that first bite, Satan was savoring victory. It was so easy. All he had to do was get the woman thinking about the fruit, questioning God’s motive for the restriction in the garden. By getting her to turn her eyes toward what God had commanded she could not have, he had started the wheels in motion. It was an amazing accomplishment. Everything God had created was ruined, tainted by the presence of sin. I’m sure he thought he had won. It was all over but the celebration.
But it was a temporary victory. That very evening, God gave Satan the bad news. He would place enmity between the woman’s offspring and Satan’s. And while Satan might be able to land a glancing blow on this One’s heel, that enmity would crush Satan’s head. Final victory would go to the Lord.
Another defining moment came thousands of years later when a solitary figure silhouetted against the sky bowed His head and gave up His spirit. His death on the cross had been planned before the foundations of the world. And in that final moment of sacrifice, He exchanged His life for ours. Death had lost its power. The captives would be set free. Hope for salvation suddenly became a possibility. All in one defining moment.