“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
I tuned in a couple of weeks ago to coverage of the Boston Marathon. After last year’s tragedy where two bombs exploded near the finish line killing three people and injuring 260 others, it was encouraging to know the city was carrying on with one of its great traditions. Sometimes it’s just important that we do things.
As you would expect, most of the headlines centered on the winners. Kenya’s Rita Zeptoo won her second straight Boston Marathon with a course-record time of 2:18:57. The popular story was men’s winner 38-year-old Meb Keflezighi. He became the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 with his winning time of 2:08:37.
However, another story took place that got little to no coverage in our national media. But we’ll get back to that in a minute.
Empathy. We don’t use that term nearly enough do we? We don’t practice it enough either. Empathy is feeling what another person feels. You can understand and share another’s experiences and emotions. I was surprised to learn that there is no direct mention of the word empathy in the Bible. But there are many references to acts of empathy such as Matthew 7:12, John 15:12, Ephesians 4:32, and Romans 12:15. It is there.
I’m quite sure God wants me to tune into others and help them in whatever circumstance or place they reside. In this year’s Boston Marathon, that is where the bigger story existed.
An unidentified Massachusetts man had gone 26 miles — the finish line was visible — but his body began to betray him as his legs gave way. Luckily Dave Meyer arrived. Meyer is an experienced runner who happened to be having one of the worst races of his life that day. He just wanted to finish. Meyer noticed the man, put his arm around his shoulder, and began a painstaking walk toward the finish line. When asked why he stopped Meyer said, “…I knew how important it was that I finish. So I knew it was important that he finish.”
The two continued to struggle. That is when Jim Grove caught up to them. Like Meyer, Grove was having a bad race. He took the man’s other arm and the three marched forward. A few hundred yards from the finish line the man’s legs finally gave out.
That is when Mike Johnson arrived. Johnson was running his second Boston Marathon. His first experience was last year when he was stopped at mile 26 when the bombs went off. This year, he was determined to finish the race. Kathy Goodwin arrived about the same time. They grabbed the man’s legs and the five runners made the slow trek to the finish line. As the Boston crowd exploded in applause, Goodwin said, “This year, everyone was going to finish the race.”
They carried the man within a few feet of the finish line, put him down, and all five walked across the finish line.
Last year, runners helped carry those who were injured. This year, runners carried a man so that he could finish the race.
“Everyone is going to finish the race.” You know, Dave Meyer and Jim Grove might not have been happy with their times but I bet you now that they won’t ever have a race more memorable than this one.
“Everyone is going to finish the race.” God is equipping us every day to be ready. And be ready friends because you never know who you might need to carry to the finish line.
Director of Operations
Johns Creek Baptist Church