I like to collect crosses from places I visit. I like wearable souvenirs. Whenever I wear the cross I bought at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, someone inevitably tells me that it’s backwards. It isn’t but it does look that way. It’s a replica of the “Ground Zero Cross”; steel beams that were found standing firm and tall in the midst of the World Trade Center war zone. It became a symbol of faith, hope, and even peace to the many who tirelessly peeled away mountains of debris in the aftermath of the horror. Rescue workers began gathering and pausing at the cross for spiritual renewal and reflection as they buried their pain in the ruble and recovered their fallen brothers and sisters for the dignity they deserved.

Like many cross beams framing the structure, these steel beams had been welded together for the construction of the twin towers. This particular cross beam just so happened to fall into the carnage in a fashion of faith that still stops people in their tracks as they somberly walk through the memorial museum. What took my breath away was the melted silver object on the left side of the cross. The terrorist attack created such intense heat that molten metal fell through the towers and became part of the remains.

One account suggests that it is the remains of a firefighter’s jacket. I learned that the fire-resistant jacket will turn silver and take on the look and consistency of metal when it encounters extreme heat and fire. That may or may not be what wrapped around the beam, but it made me think about the rescue workers.

We often hear the herald that firefighters run into burning buildings as people run out. Over 400 rescue workers made the ultimate sacrifice when they ran into the World Trade Center on 9/11. How do they do it? How do they look death in the face and charge towards it, sometimes conquering, sometimes not?

I’m thankful for my little Ground Zero Cross necklace. My eyes are always drawn to the shiny mangled metal hanging on the cross. I’m thankful for the brave ones who rush into the danger, facing death with determination. I’m eternally thankful for the cross that held Christ’s mangled body as he faced eternal death on our behalf. He charged the enemy and He still holds the victory. If you are surrounded by danger, running from ruin… if you are facing eternal death, I give you the urgent challenge to look to the cross. Stop, pause, reflect.  Christ sacrificed his life for you. Like the Ground Zero Cross that seemed to rise out of carnage, Christ rose undefeated from the greatest adversary we could face. He freely shares eternal life with you. It’s a gift that I am thankful for. Your eternal life and mine. I’m thankful for it.

“He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”

Philippians 2:8

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