Closer Than You Think

I was born in the city of Derby. I have lived there most of my life. Derby is a city in the Midlands of England and in the county of Derbyshire. This county is one of the most beautiful counties in the United Kingdom with rolling hills, dales, pasture, rivers and historical stately homes that reflect the green and pleasant land of Great Britain. Derby is a city of about 250,000 inhabitants and famous as the home of Rolls Royce.

Derby is hardly a hotbed of political radicalism. However, it did very recently receive unwanted attention. With the war in Iraq, retaliation was expected in different parts of the world with places like London and New York being prime targets. Israel has also long been a target of suicide bombers. On Wednesday, April 30, carnage was the result of a suicide bomber at Mike’s Place, a beachfront bar, in Tel Aviv. Three people were killed and sixty people wounded. One bomber blew himself to pieces and the other, Omar Khan Sharif, according to press reports, managed to escape when his explosive device did not detonate.

How many know that this person, who immediately became the most wanted man in Israel, came from Derby? He had lived just a street or two away from where my parents and I lived many years ago, before I was married. I now live about 5 miles from that area. The locals, when interviewed for television, radio and the press, just couldn’t believe that such a quiet individual could be responsible for such an outrage.

We sometimes think that all these events occur in, and that all these type of criminals come from the big cities and the well known areas. Don’t you believe it! If suicide bombers can come from the Midlands of England, they can come from anywhere! We may think that as we live in a quiet backwater (if indeed we do), we are safe from the excesses of fanatics. However, if such people can be produced in our relatively small community in Derby, they can be produced anywhere!

How close is close? Too close for comfort! This recent suicide bombing is also a stark reminder that we approach the end of this age. As we do, there will be no hiding place — anywhere in the world — not even in little places that we consider backwaters.

Omar Khan Sharif, the failed suicide bomber from Derby, has brought to the attention of the local community that these sort of people can live in our midst, although we might not realize it. How many more fanatics will rear their ugly heads in our small communities in the future?

We have to understand that our safety and refuge do not depend on local or state policing, security guards, government edicts, or the military, but on our great Creator God. Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” Let us never forget our real source of help, however close trouble may be. Our security, survival and protection depend on our faith in our great God and in His promises. Things will get worse and outrages such as the one in Tel Aviv will increase. Let us never forget where our protection truly lies — protection that will become ever more necessary as the weeks and months pass by.

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