Like most Jewish families we take a Shabbat walk around our neighborhood. This week our Sabbath stroll was interrupted by the new signpost the town put up.
It points out that we live just 171 kilometers (106 miles) from Damascus, which sent not a few shivers up my spine. That’s about the same distance we travel to Tel Aviv and back when we visit our daughter’s family. About an hour-and-a-half drive.
The sign points just northward from where we live to where the terrorist satellites of Syria and Iran sit right on the border with Israel. For the folks living on the Golan Heights, Syria is literally in their backyard. Not the most pleasant Sabbath meditation.
To the south we see that the Gaza Strip is 117 kilometers, or 72 miles away, though much closer as the crow (or missiles) fly. We live in Caesarea, which is on the coast about halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa, and we don’t see or hear the rockets falling on Israel’s Negev townships situated adjacent to Gaza. We tend to forget about the daily tensions experienced by the people who live there.
Our returning prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu lives just down the street from us here in Caesarea, and from time to time we bump into him on his family Shabbat walk along the beach (including bodyguards). We support Mr. Netanyahu, but around here he is not at all popular. From Tel Aviv through the Sharon Valley and all the way up to the Galilee, together with the kibbutzim and agricultural towns scattered about, folks tend to vote more to the left and don’t like Netanyahu’s strong stand against our enemies. For some reason, folks around here feel safer living just an hour away from the trouble. Maybe Bibi put the sign up to remind us, my son offered with a smile.
When I first saw the new signpost I thought what a nice idea to give us a sense of where we are in the bigger picture of geography. Like 988 km (615 mi) to Baghdad. Far enough away to sound exotic. But the more I thought about it the more I realized what a gift it is that we can take our families out for a Shabbat stroll without fear or tension (until they put up that signpost!).
My wife reminded us of the Psalm that says, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death… You have set a table for us in the presence of our enemies.” That pretty much describes our situation here in Israel, and speaks to a wellbeing and “a cup running over” we drink at His table with the contentment and peace that comes with trusting Him in spite of all the troubles we face daily.
As we thought about this, our “Shabbat Shalom” was restored and we continued our walk with a greater appreciation for the care and protection our Father in Heaven provides, and the peace that passes all understanding.
Have a great week, trust in the Lord, and do “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May those who love her be secure.”
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