Trapped in a War Zone
Life went on.
Later that evening we went to a party. When we heard a particularly seismic bang, they told the children someone had set off fireworks for the birthday celebration. My husband took me aside and informed me it was the bridge to Beirut. Beirut and the airport. The way out. They always bombed it first to cut off the South from supplies. I didn’t enjoy the cake so much. A trapped sensation began to squeeze my chest.
On the way home I watched red rockets shoot into the sky. Not in celebration of Clara’s birthday. Teens lined the streets watching them like fireworks anyway. That’s when I realized: although no one had a gripe with the neutral little village, sometimes innocent bystanders get caught in the fray. Hezbollah rockets flew willy-nilly across the sky after streaking Israeli jets, not at all concerned where they landed. I watched the flares apex and arch and spin back down to earth, without a care. The rockets. Not me.
Psalm 140 (The Message Version)
1-5 God, get me out of here, away from this evil; protect me from these vicious people. All they do is think up new ways to be bad; they spend their days plotting war games. They practice the sharp rhetoric of hate and hurt, speak venomous words that maim and kill.
Appropriate don’t you think.
After a while the kids fell asleep, but I could not. I struggled to calm my racing heart, to still my shaking hands, to swallow back my fear. I stroked their curly heads as they lay in peace, treasuring each child, each moment, the tranquil features of their small faces. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning I crawled to my own bed on the side of the house where the rockets zoomed. I didn’t care anymore. I was desperate to escape into dreams.
But with the first light of dawn I awoke to my husband’s whispered confession. “They bombed the airport last night.”
Where to go? What to do? This was no child’s game. We were truly trapped. Should we go to Syria? To Jordan? Take a taxi? Steal a car? I couldn’t spend months in that village listening to bombs drop. I would never survive. Besides, there were things waiting for us back home, dance camps and church picnics, homeschool planning and season tickets to amusement parks.
This was not my life!
I called my kids and husband to the interior room. It was the most peaceful place in the house. We sang and prayed some more. I asked the children if any of them had a word from God. Lord knew I was far too much of a mess to hear. Adam, not quite four-years-old, piped up. “I do,” he said in his squeaky little voice.
We didn’t know at the time that back home people were experiencing similar visions and dreams. But when Adam told us the story, we felt we understood. The library represented man’s wisdom. If we did what seemed wise, we would be trapped. I couldn’t be trapped again. I couldn’t stay trapped in that village any longer.
My husband said, “So, let’s go north to Beirut.”
Now, you have to understand traveling north to Beirut was the stupidest thing we could have done. The Israelis were on a mission to bomb out all the bridges and shut down transportation, and to get to Beirut would mean crossing many, many bridges.
Almost four-year-old Adam was right. If we tried to get out of the country we would have been trapped at the border for days. And the borders were being bombed.
When the US government finally announced they would send refugee ships, we were a five-minute drive from the departure spot, precisely where we needed to be. Adam’s vision proved true yet again. God had spoken. God is always speaking if only we will stop and listen. He had been our hiding place. Our refuge in that storm.
I have more great stories about mobs and two days roasting on a concrete bridge and my kids being passed over the heads of US Marines. I'll have to share those another time.
But finally, we sat on the deck of the USS Nashville watching the Lebanese skyline slip past. Feeling the cool Mediterranean breeze under the clear blue sky. We slept right on the deck under the stars. That might be my favorite night ever.
Back safe in the states!