At 2:43 PM last Monday, I took out my iPhone and made a 13 second video of the finish line. I was standing on the northeast corner of Exeter and Boylston in Boston. My wife had completed the marathon a few minutes before, so I was taking in the atmosphere around the finish line before I went to meet up with her. I was proud of her, amazed that anyone could run 26 miles. There was no hurry, because she would be tied up for the next hour … rehydrating, getting a massage, basking in the glory of finishing the world’s most prestigious marathon. So, I sauntered slowly eastward on Boylston Street. I paused at the finish line and watched more runners cross. They were exhausted, but jubilant … and I was happy for them.
On Monday morning, I left the house early. The last person I said goodbye to on my way out the door was Sophie, my 6-year-old. I had to get down on one knee to look her in the eye and take in her wide smile (which is missing a few teeth). She’s a cutie. So eager to love and hug. So excited to take on the day, whatever day it is. So little. So fragile. As I hugged her, I was overcome with the thought that only 3 days before, a man walked into an elementary school and murdered 20 Sophies. What did he see on their faces as he burst into their classroom? How many of them were smiling just seconds before … probably with the precious teeth-missing smile only true of a 6-year-old?
What is the joy of waiting? We have all experienced how waiting and anticipation heightens the joy of consummation. The first example that comes to mind is the birth of a child. If babies came right after conception, the new life might bring more shock and fear than joy in the moment. Perhaps God’s gift to us is time — time to tell everyone our good news, time to paint a room and buy things, time to prepare ourselves for this new life. Instantaneous birth would rob us of the joy of waiting, but with nine months to prepare and imagine, the birthday comes as a glorious celebration!