The morning was laid-back and carefree. I stayed in pyjamas and sipped coffee while watching the Boston Marathon on television with my kids, who knew Grandpa and Auntie were racing. My father had run the Boston Marathon with me nine years previously and with my eldest sister, Susan, some years before that. So it was a big deal for him to have the opportunity to run this race with the middle of his three daughters.
It hadn’t come easy. Last year, he dealt with serious heart problems that had curbed his running for a while. And you have to run a marathon with a fast time just to qualify for Boston. It took months of preparation for my sister and my father, but they had done it. Once complete, my father would have run the Boston Marathon with each of his three daughters in three separate decades. Running has become a way for our family to bond and grow closer.
Then it happened—two explosions that shattered the joy of the day.
In the Midst of Bedlam
My father and sister had gotten separated in the mass of people long before the finish line and neither had a cellphone. My dad was on Boylston Street when the bombs exploded and my sister, Shannon, was not far away, but searching for him with a frantic heart.
Watching at home, we knew from the advanced timing system that Dad had just crossed the finish line, but we had not heard from him, and we did not know if my sister was safe. The authorities shut down all cellphone service in the wake of the blasts to prevent any further remote detonations. Would there be more bombs? Was my sister OK? Was my dad alive?
The silence of not knowing was horrendous.
How did I react when I came into contact with terror? I’d never turned to prayer so quickly. With my phone on my ear and big sis on the line, I cried out to God because, after all, He is the only One bigger than evil.
My phone was like popcorn that day with all the buzzing and beeping it was doing. In the end, it helped my family reunite and get to safety.
But in the midst of it all—when I was realizing why terror is the root word of terrorism—the doorbell rang.
It was my mom’s friend, Mary. She just showed up.
There’s a story in the Bible about a battle Moses and his people fought. Moses was positioned on a nearby hill, and when he raised his arms and staff up toward heaven, his people prevailed over the enemy. But every time his arms got tired and dropped down, the enemy advanced. In response, two of his friends held his arms up, so that the battle was won. His friends were there when he needed them (see Exodus 17:8-16). These special types of folks are the ones willing to offer unconditional support in order to see God prevail in your life.
We can text. We can call. But Mary showed up. After all, it’s pretty hard to text or telephone a hug.
There’s a lesson here, and it’s nothing extraordinary. It’s the reminder to simply make time for others. Maybe it’s sending an old-fashioned card. Maybe it’s dropping off a warm meal. And maybe it’s going out of your way to give someone a much-needed hug.
Mary knew we had family in the marathon and knew we needed the comfort of a friend.
I want to be like Mary.
I want to be the one that shows up when I’m needed most.