I was going to write “My water bottle runneth over,” but that won’t cut it today. My water bottle just got punctured by a piece of flying shrapnel. Its contents are leaking out all over the sidewalk. Oh-my-God.
I don’t like the commonality of that expression. The Omg’s uttered by teens and young adults in regular conversation. An expression of delight or disgust. An outburst of enthusiasm or horror. An interjection. An expectorant. An expletive.
That’s not the way our Lord’s name is supposed to be used.
Well, I am climbing down off my high horse. Because yesterday at the Boston marathon, it was both an expletive and a prayer. And somehow that fits. In a moment, a triumphant celebration was reduced to chaos, confusion and horror. A war scene on the streets of the city. Taunting are the flapping finish-line flags, colored for nations represented by the runners.
All of a sudden the race didn’t matter. As a Washington Post writer put it,
“Marathon runners halted, then ran again, this time with no destination but for an elusive place they could call safe.”
Someone stole the finish line. Oh, the banner was still waving, beckoning the runners across it, but it didn’t matter any more. Finishing didn’t signify anything, not anything of importance.
This is particularly poignant for me – someone who works with athletes and whose business is called “Fit2Finish.” The notion that some need help getting to the finish line is why I do what I do. The reality that some give up before they get there is unavoidable. But the idea that someone took the finish line away…now that is what has me saying OMG. Not that they stole the banner but, in a more insidious way, they stole the joy by making it not matter.
All of a sudden it didn’t. And so be it. It’s not where we finish but how we finish that matters. We’re all running toward our finish line. Some at a sprint, some at a plod, most at a pace in between. I expect what really matters is, if along the way a bomb goes off and then a second, we’d give up our race to attend to the wounded. As many did yesterday.
All the runners eventually were stopped. I say eventually because I read about one runner, a Boston psychology professor and his daughter, who heard the blasts and saw the chaos but refused to stop. Until they were made to. “Your race is over,” they were told by officials.
Now those are words I wouldn’t want to hear when I reach the end of this race I’m running called life. Then it might be too late to call out to God. This is God’s finish line after all. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Or more properly,
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. ~ Job 1:20-22
It’s that last thing that’s the kicker. In it all, praise the Lord. This is not God’s doing. God ushers us into the safe place again and again when we call on Him. Even as we make our way to a destination we don’t yet know. Even when we call Him OMG. No one can take that away from me.
My prayers and tears are with all those whose lives were lost, disrupted or forever changed by the events at the Boston marathon yesterday. Civilians who all of sudden were part of a war zone. Active healthy people turned wounded warriors. They say war is hell, and that’s what it appeared to be on the streets of Boston yesterday. Except for one thing: I saw and read about those who stopped and helped. Who were God among them.
Either it wasn’t hell, or God goes there, too.
May the name of the Lord be praised.