Northern Ireland in the 1970s was a very different place to what it is now. This was one of the worse periods of "The Troubles" in the province. The Provisional IRA continued to murder armed forces personnel and civilians alike and also to bomb whatever targets they seemed to choose. As a kid I remember one evening my Dad ordering me to lie down under our sitting-room window as there was a gun battle raging in a street beyond our house. I also remember the damage done to windows in our street the day after the new Police Station was bombed by the IRA. This wasn't even in Belfast, I have no idea what it was like for those much closer to the worse violence and mayhem going on there!
As for the bombs, they seemed to be getting larger and more complicated each year. We also heard from time to time of bomb disposal officers (British Army Technical Officers) being killed too. These were the men whose job it was to try and diffuse any unexploded bombs. In turn they became direct targets themselves as the IRA would add booby traps to their homemade bombs. Agricultural fertilizer and later Semtex smuggled from Libya were used to make highly effective booby-trap devices or remote-controlled bombs.
So why think about this now, you may be asking? The above photo is a lot to do with it. I saw it again recently on a television programme which was a tribute to those British Army Technical Officers who worked in Northern Ireland during the '70s.
Going back to the photograph then…
It is called "the long walk" and it captures the moment when an Army Technical Officer (ATO) was on his way to deal with a suspect device in a parked van at the junction of Manor Street and the Old Park Road in North Belfast. I couldn't find out the date the photograph was taken but I believe it was in the 1970's and that the ATO was not injured.
As I pondered the photo, I was asking some questions in my head…
My mind also took me to another 'long walk', recorded for us only briefly in God's Word…
They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. (John 19:17)
This long walk was also taken by one Man. His walk took Him from the 'hall of judgment' in Jerusalem to outside the city walls at Golgotha. It is difficult even to imagine the magnitude of this selfless act and what torments Jesus must have been going through. The end of this walk resulted in a horrendous death on a Roman cross. Today this path is known as the Via Dolorosa or "Way of Grief" in Latin.
I also thought about the ticking time bomb in many millions of lives around the world. Its name is called sin. Not a popular message in this day or age but an absolute truth if you read and believe the Bible. But this ticking time bomb can be dealt with, as just like the ATO in our photo, it took a Man to diffuse it. The Man, of course, was the Lord Jesus Christ who bore our sins when He suffered and died on a Roman cross.
Sin is horrible and it has eternal consequences. For those without God's salvation, eternity will mean eternal judgment. The Lord Jesus bids you to come to Him just now. Only then will you be prepared and ready to meet your God.
When Amos stated, "prepare to meet thy God" (Amos 4:12), he was speaking words of warning from a heart that cared for people who had lost their way. Today, hearts in Grove care just the same and we would repeat that very same warning…
"…prepare to meet thy God…" (Amos 4:12)
Careless soul, oh, heed the warning,
For your life will soon be gone;
Oh, how sad to face the judgment,
Unprepared to meet thy God.
Until next month then (DV)…
P.S. Going back to the photo again, the Ebenezer Gospel Hall (the building on the left) is still there and so is the Gospel text! You can take a look at what it looks like today here.
Are you SURE that you have your place booked in Heaven? Read this if you're not!