From Monday’s bombing to Friday’s “manhunt,” things have definitely been…um…intense. I first sat down to write this post the day after the bombing and have a hard time finishing it.
The truth is, there are so many things a person can takeaway from the events that have happened in Boston (and in West, Texas and all over the world). Part of me wants to examine my life and the things in it that I count as utterly important that I probably wouldn’t, if I truly understood how short life on earth really was and is. The other part of me wants to write about my sorrow surrounding the position of “Suspect #2” (how he’s a 19 year old that potentially had a full life ahead of him, but he chose a path that leads to destruction and, now, is an Enemy of the State). I’d write about how my heart longs for him to come to know the Lord and how I believe even he, the criminal, can be saved by the grace of God. (I will, most likely, still write about these things in future posts.)
Today, though, I want to finish the post I started on Tuesday, April 16th.
This post may feel kind of grim because it’s about the first thing that comes to a person’s mind after a tragedy. The world would maybe call it the second darkest thing after the heinous crimes of the individuals that caused the crime itself. My point, however, is not to scare people, but to share the hope and the certainty that is in Christ.
What you’ll read is how the event happened in my life, and what I first gathered from it. (Exhale…)
So, in an attempt to make this post as short as possible, here we go…
Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
As the news channels display the pictures, and government officials try to explain to the world what is going on, I’ve been thinking…
Last week, all of the setup began. The medical tent was placed a short distance from the finish line, bleachers were set up, and the city seemed to be getting busier by the second. It was going to be my first Boston Marathon experience (as a spectator, of course), and I was excited.
I walked to work an hour early Monday morning.
You see, “Marathon Monday” tends to put the city in a buzz. People line up everywhere, roads are blocked off, and several of the T stations are put to rest. Let’s just say, this makes getting around a little more difficult than normal. I didn’t mind, too much.
Monday morning, things were quiet.
A few spectators were gearing up outside of my office, as I walked to the eatery next door. I bought a coffee, went upstairs, and began reading a book. I had about an hour, and I figured I might as well relax a little bit before the day’s festivities began. As I ate, I heard people talking about the race. Excitement, mixed with nervous anticipation, seemed to be everywhere.
Around 8:20am, I walked next door, went up the elevator, and sat down at my desk – about 100 yards away from the finish line.
The office was busy.
We had been given a challenge a few weeks ago. If we met our goals, the second half of Monday would be a Patriot’s Day celebration. We would get out of the office and experience some of the activity outside by the finish line. We hadn’t met the goals, yet – and everyone was frantically trying to do so.
As noon hit, the first runner was making their way across the finish line.
Wanting to see some of the action, I left for my lunch break and ventured down to the edge of the street. Due to the mass amount of people, I couldn’t get to the finish line. I peaked around and over people, tried to squeeze through, but eventually decided that I’d just have to wait until later to see everything clearly.
I grabbed some pretzels from CVS, and I walked back to work. Several of us ate by the window of our office so that we could see “the zombies” pass by (runners who had finished the race who were a little stiff legged).
By the time 2:00pm hit, everyone in the office was back in “go” mode. Phone calls were being made, deals were being discussed, and leads were being sourced. I had just finished texting my mom about their trip to Boston (they were due to fly in the next day) and refocused my attention on the work in front of me.
Minutes later (at 2:50pm) a loud noise shook our building – and everything in my office stopped.
All of us looked up from our computers, stood up, and ran to the window that overlooked the “recovery area” of the finish line. Within two seconds the scene shifted from looks of victory to horror. It seemed like only 5 seconds passed when another loud boom echoed throughout Boston.
People started running.
Athletes who had just finished running over 26 miles, and could barely walk, began sprinting down the street below us. People in nearby buildings began running outside away from the finish line area. Medical personnel and cops began running against the wave of people toward the scene.
Not quite sure what had happened, I looked up and saw the John Hancock Tower (the tallest building in Boston and the place where my husband works). Everything seemed to fine. I exhaled in relief.
The office was in a complete frenzy. Some people thought a gunman was on the loose. A few thought the finish line (a very large metal beam) had fallen. Others thought bombs were the cause. Intentional or not, we didn’t know. All we knew was that something terrible was happening. We couldn’t see what had happened, but we were right by it.
A few seconds later, a “tweet” and a picture came across my colleague’s screen. The finish line of the Boston Marathon had been bombed…twice.
I began to imagine what we couldn’t see. I looked at the emergency vehicles stacking up down the street. “How could something like this happen? What if my husband was down there? What if he had left his office to watch his friend cross the finish line? What is going on? Where is he?”
I ran to my desk. My husband had called. I picked up my phone and dialed his number…no answer. I tried again, but this time, my phone wasn’t working. I picked up the landline and finally got through to his work voicemail:
“Hey. I saw that you called. I think a bomb went off. I’m okay. I see your building. It looks fine, so I’m thinking you’re okay, too. I love you.” (Or something like that.) I set the phone down, and my heart began racing. What we didn’t know and the fear of what could happen next was chilling.
The next few seconds were a blur, but the next thing I knew, my husband was in my office. He, after being alarmed by his secretary that a bomb had gone off, told those he could to evacuate and then ran down 42 flights of stairs, unsure of what he would see when he got out of the building. Would my office building be in flames? He couldn’t get a hold of me. Was his building next? He called his parents and asked them to pray.
Once outside, he ran across the street, past a few cops who were trying to stop him, and into my building.
Ten minutes after the first bomb had gone off, we were together and maybe even safe.
As everyone in the office debated whether or not we should stay or leave, we watched people outside of the window. Streets were being shut down, volunteers were turning over tables and throwing them out of the way so that medical vehicles could get through, people with stretchers were running toward the medical tent, and camera men were running with cameras toward the scene.
The sirens in our building sounded. We grabbed our bags, ran out of our office, down the stairs, and out the back door of the building into the alley. As police officers begged for people to clear the area (they didn’t know if another bomb was going to go off), Caleb and I prayed. We walked home (very quickly) calling family and friends. We were okay.
I know this is a lot of detail, and, if you’re like me, you’re probably not interested in the stories anymore. At this point, I kind of just want answers. However, I tell these things so that I can make my point clear:
I know this is a terribly awful statement for a lot of people to read after watching the horrific events on Monday, but I think it’s one of the most important things a person can think about. The answer can even shape the rest of your life.
You see, I believe that life lasts forever.
The Bible speaks of two different eternities – eternal life, or heaven, and eternal death, also known as hell (See Matthew 25:46). The Bible also says that God wants EVERYONE to know him and have eternal life (2 Peter 3:9). He even provides us with a solution so that we don’t have to experience eternal death.
You see, God created man – he created you and me. He created man to do good things and live life with a pure heart, not causing pain or hurt or chaos to anyone or anything. It was a beautiful creation. He gave us Eden a perfect and beautiful place. He wanted good for us. (And He still does.) God told Adam and Eve that they could eat anything in the garden, except for the fruit of one tree – “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” He wanted them to choose to love and obey Him, not be forced into it. They chose a different path.
Adam and Eve ate the apple and, by doing so, chose to go against the provision that the Lord had for them…perfection. Sin entered (See Romans 5:12).
We, just like Adam and Eve, are not perfect and make mistakes that cause harm, hurt, chaos and confusion to others. (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23) Sin, in its original language, is an archery term that means “missing the mark” – and the Bible says the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
But there’s hope.
The Bible also says that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). It reads, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He paid the price for our sin. He died, and His death ransomed us. His death declared us righteous (or in right standing) before God. It’s a gift. We didn’t, and don’t, have to earn it (Ephesians 2:8).
Today, I live by this truth: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
He is life. Eternal life. (John 3:16)
I guess what I’m trying to say, is there is an answer. “The afterlife” doesn’t have to be a scary, uncertain, mythological thing. You can know. You don’t have to wonder. You can walk through life knowing that even if death happens, it’s not over. There’s no fear in death. What a relief!
When the bombings happened, everything stopped. What people were doing didn’t matter. What everyone had planned didn’t either. All that mattered was life – what it was and how to save it.
My prayer is that events like this would make us stop and think. May those who know the Lord rest in the fact that in Him and Him only is eternal life and you have nothing to fear. May those who feel uncertain, search for the truth. Don’t let anxiety or awkwardness stop you. Search for the answer. There is one.
What you think about it could shape the rest of your life.