Marathon Memories (8)

The clueless crowd

With my eldest son, Joel

A few days ago someone asked me about the marathon. It prompted me to add another memory.

The last memory I wrote was how an unexpected cheer of encouragement made all the difference. To be fair the whole crowd was fantastic, applauding, cheering and shouting your name. It is one of those things that almost every runner of the marathon comments upon. For a moment you are a bit like a hero – and we all like that!

However, towards the end of the race, when I was in my agonizing final run-a-bit walk-a-bit phase, my attitude towards the crowd changed. This was typified by one moment. As the pain from my injured knee had increased to force me to walk once more, a man with a pint glass of beer in hand and a midriff the size of a Tellytubby shouted, “Don’t stop! Keep running!” I am sure, in hindsight, he meant to be encouraging. But it wasn’t. All I could think of was how utterly clueless he was of my predicament. What did he know about how I felt, what I was facing and what I should do? He looked like he could barely stand, let alone run (my pastoral side was coming out). I needed someone who understood.

How often in our lives does it feel like no-one understands? How often have people’s best intentions seemed insensitive because we know they have no idea what it is to walk in our shoes? How many times have we ranted at God for the situations we face or the things that he asks of us? What would he know? How would he understand? And then we remember ….

Hebrews 4:15-16 (MSG)

15 We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.

16 So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

He does know. He does understand. Really. Ask him. Listen to him.

On April 17th 2011 I ran the London Marathon. Here’s why. You can donate here (this page will close on 17th July 2011). You can read more marathon thoughts here (once they are published).

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