I had never run with nearly 30,000 people. Never before had I run through streets packed with wildly cheering supporters and well wishers. I had also never been shoved from behind at mile 3 before. Almost being sent to the pavement early on in the race was a new experience. I will come back to that later on.
I ran the race as a part of the S.W.I.F.T. team.  This is a group of runners who run under the acronym that represents: Strength, Wisdom, Integrity, Faith, and Truth. The team jersey has a clearly portrayed cross on the front in some eye-catching colors. The logo identified me with S.W.I.F.T. alumni among the crowd whom I had no idea were there. There were countless other people who simply saw the cross in the logo and gave specific encouragement.
I was running by myself in a pack of runners that I did not know. Yet, I was together with a team. A team that I did not anticipate being with me. I was a whole lot stronger thanks to a running community.
Stronger Together Intentionally
I am privileged to join the ranks of illustrious SDB runners such as Eric Bofinger and Seth Greene on this running team that graciously allows old geezers like me into their ranks. Both Eric and Seth have invested in my training and preparations. Beyond S.W.I.F.T., my wife Cindy and our kids along with my brother John tracked my race throughout Monday morning and cheered me from a distance. My parents worked out my transportation to and from Boston for the race. SDB coworkers and friends cheered me on and sent encouraging notes. I was far from alone.
I was stronger as part of a community of family and friends.
The Boston Marathon course was lined with countless signs proclaiming the motto “Boston Strong.” The reminder of the catastrophic events from 10 years ago coupled with the resilience of people was a theme throughout the race. There is togetherness required for strength. I experienced that in direct felt ways throughout the race. We are simply stronger together.
Back to that shove from behind. At mile 3, I was giving high-fives to a bunch of kids along the edge of the street stretching their hands out toward runners. At that time, unbeknownst to me, a runner was attempting to pass me on the right. With his passage cut off by high-fives, the runner gave a stern, commanding shove to set me out of his way. I learned.
I thrive in the community of a running team, of family and friends, and among encouragers. I can live and learn from a quick shove in isolation as well—but not thrive. There is more than running on my mind at this point.
We can run life solo and learn from impersonal interactions—but not thrive. We can also dig into community and thrive in places that invite belonging. When it comes to a local church and networks of churches, we have an opportunity for deep community. We have support and interaction that goes deep. If we take risk and truly engage with others. If we invest the time.
My challenge in the days ahead is to engage in true community every week, every day. Isolation can be easy to drift into, but community offers a place to live strong. Together. My call to deliver the gospel message with “swift feet”  is not just an individual calling–it is a calling in community.
And, for those of you wondering if I really ran, you can find the results here: https://results.baa.org/2023/.
 The S.W.I.F.T. group derives its name from the Frances Ridley Havergal hymn line: “Take my feet, and let them be, Swift and beautiful for Thee” based on Isaiah 52:7. (Eric Bofinger)