London Underground Bombing – Reflections 10 Years On

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I got this text from my mom yesterday while at the breakfast table with my husband and four kids. Upon reading the text, I reminded Charles that today was the anniversary of the London underground bombings in 2005.

We both remember right where we were when it happened. I was in a training class with my accounting colleagues, and Charles was in a German class. Living in the UK at the time, nearly everyone with us had a loved one that could have been on the underground, and somewhat organized panic shot through the room as people worked to reach their loved ones by text or call. That scene and how it felt will always be engraved in my memory. It’s kind of the equivalent of 9-11 for British people: smaller in scale but disturbing in how close it felt to so many more people.

After my comment at the breakfast table yesterday, I had a flood of questions from our kids:

  • Was I alive yet? [No, I was pregnant with you.]
  • Were you on the train? [No, we weren’t.]
  • Did people die? [Yes, 52 people died and others lost limbs and were massively hurt.]
  • What is a bomb? [Ask your dad.]
  • What is a limb? [A leg or an arm – not a part of a tree!]
  • Why did someone do this? [Good question. There is a lot of evil people in the world who do evil things.]
  • Could it happen again? [Hesitatingly . . . Yes.]

The answers to some of these questions are very different for the families of the 52 killed that day. As I sat at the table and tried to explain to my kids the workings of this event, I was reminded of how fleeting life is. Everyone reflects and processes tragedies like this differently. Here are three, inter-connected reflections:

  • Enjoy the mundane.

On my calendar today are things like take my son to swimming lessons, pick up other son from baseball practice, and if time allows, grade a few papers. It is easy to overlook these things as unimportant, particularly in comparison to a big event like 7-7, but it is precisely a big event which reveals how these moments actually come together to define my life. This is what life overwhelmingly is made of — the normal, the boring, the mundane. A big tragedy helps me see that I want to live in a way that sees each of these small moments as important and worthwhile. I want to end my days being able to agree with Jesus’s perspective on his life: I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do (John 17:4). Even when — especially when — the work can feel pretty mundane.

  • Take our sin and standing before God seriously, for ourselves and others.

The Bible makes it clear that our days are numbered but that we don’t know their number. And when people asked Jesus about the tragedy of his day, his response wasn’t to engage in theological speculation about why it happened, but instead to press his audience that their lives were short and they needed to grapple with their relationship to God (Luke 13:1-9). I want to live my life in a way that sees my sin for what it is and, at the same time, sees lost people as truly lost. I want to love those that are lost and pray that God might use me as instrument in their lives: Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time (Colossians 4:5).

  • Make the most of the days we are given.

Life is fleeting. Psalm 90:12 encourages us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom. Believing this to be true, I want to live in a way that capitalizes on the days I am given. I want my days to be spent on things that matter in eternity. Too often I can be distracted, bothered, engaged in things that have little value over time. I want to have a heart of wisdom that spends time on things that are important to God because that is what I want to be important to me.

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