You can run, but you cannot hide

The news of Osama bin Laden’s demise met me early Monday morning as I read the newspaper online, and the thoughts I had for this week’s column were shoved aside. Although I cannot speak for God in this situation, I can say with confidence that God’s ways are perfectly just and though we may run from Him, we cannot hide. Not for long. Certainly not forever. Whether we seek refuge in a cave or in a mansion, our freedom is imaginary and our end is certain. Whether we are surrounded by cold stone walls that echo with our blasphemous uttering, or whether we are protected by the military might of a nation, it is the same. As God said, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Osama bin Laden’s flight from justice lasted just under 10 years.
America was shocked on April 14, 1865, when John Wilkes Booth fired a single .44-caliber bullet into the head of the beloved 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. The president died, the nation mourned, and Booth fled from justice. But not for long. He was found in a barn owned by Richard Garrett of Virginia. Booth refused to surrender and raised his carbine to shoot one of the men who had come to arrest him. Sgt. Boston Corbett shot Booth, aiming at his arm to disable him. Booth moved as the shot was fired, and the bullet struck him in the back of the head, ironically entering about one inch below the spot where Booth’s shot had entered the head of President Lincoln. The men rushed into the barn and caught Booth as he fell. He asked them to lift up his hands, and as they did, he uttered the words, “Useless, useless.” Perhaps this was just a commentary on his paralyzed arms, but it could apply to his pathetic act of terrorism as well. He was carried into the farmhouse and a doctor was summoned, but to no avail. He died at 7 a.m. on April 26, 1865. John Wilkes Booth’s run from justice lasted just over 10 days.
The United States did not learn of Booth’s death until days later. News traveled slowly then. But the news of bin Laden’s death Sunday exploded through the nation by tweets and emails and word of mouth at ballgames. I loved the report that chants of “U-SA!, U-S-A!” broke out in the ninth inning of the Mets-Phillies game as fans heard the news. People all over the Phillies’ ballpark were checking their phones, getting the report from online news sources, and then passing it on to the fans sitting next to them. Enemies on the baseball diamond were united in their love for their country. The game was won by the visiting Mets, but that victory paled in comparison with the news that one of the world’s most hated terrorists had been brought to justice. Many of the fans and the ballplayers were thinking about the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, as al-Qaida terrorists hijacked airliners and flew them into the Twin Towers in New York City and into the Pentagon. The Mets’ starting pitcher, Chris Young, thought about the nine firefighters who lived near him that lost their lives on 9/11. He said, “I got chills hearing that crowd. It’s a historic night and a great victory for the United States.”
This is not the end, just one man’s end. There will be other enemies, other terrorists and many who raise their fist at God Himself. They can run but they cannot hide. Not for long. Certainly not forever.