Written by Matt Ross - Pastoral Committee Member & Volunteer.
One of many, yet still one...
I recently spent nearly the entire day wandering around the grounds of Castle Donington, wrapped up against the cold breeze, wishing I had packed my gloves. I wasn’t alone. This was the venue for the England Athletics National Cross Country Championships. My wife and I, together with our youngest daughter, were there to cheer on our son Toby as he competed in the under 15s race.
Toby finished his race at around 11.45am, so whilst the nerves might have subsided, the cold continued to ravage as we continued to cheer on the rest of his team mates at Tonbridge Athletic Club who were competing in the different age groups throughout the day. This all culminated in the senior men’s race at 3pm. What a spectacle that was to behold!
Over 1700 men took part in the race. As we stood about 300m down the course from the start line you couldn’t be anything but amazed at the sea of runners that swarmed towards you and then raced, ran, or jogged past. Once they had all gone past, including a couple of latecomers who were heartily cheered, we repositioned ourselves about two thirds of the way round the course. The runners had to complete three laps of the 4km course of undulating fields and muddy tracks.
As the last of the runners went past us at around the 3km mark, the front runners were also passing by, though for them they were nearing the end of their second lap, 7km into the race.
I have to admit that whilst I marvelled at those racing past, the plodders who brought up the rear generated more of a question in me as to why they bothered.
If you have no chance of getting near the front or of being one of those who score for your club, then why compete? By all means go for a jog on a Saturday afternoon, but why enter the Nationals?
Recently I received an email asking me to pray for rain in Malawi.
The situation was dire and unless there was continued significant rainfall then this year’s maize crop would be a disaster, resulting in severe food shortages for the year ahead.
My heart sank. It weighed heavy with the plight of those countless adults and children who would suffer horrendously again. It weighed heavy as I thought about those I had met personally when I visited Malawi last Easter. But if I am honest it also weighed heavy as I reflected: what difference would my inadequate prayers make as the people of Malawi faced impending hardships of the sort that I can hardly imagine?
As I allowed those thoughts to continue, questioning the relevance of my prayers, inspiration to join with the multitudes around the world who would be praying for rain in Malawi faded away. After all I am just one tiny voice, what difference could I make? Would the lack of my prayer really make a difference?
Each and every runner played their part, whether the person wining gold or the one bringing up the rear in 1730th.
Both the first and the last were just one pair of legs as they joined together to produce such a spectacle. To compete alongside one another had meaning for both. Each brought something that was of value.