At the weekend I had the joy of winning a tennis competition at my club. This is not quite as impressive as it sounds because the competition I won was in category B, which is for the second tier of players, and because I was not quite good enough to get into the higher league, I ended up at the top of the also-rans. That said I was thrilled to win and felt a delightful warm glow of achievement as I lifted the cup.
Winning however is not what it used to be. The seventieth anniversary of VE day has reminded us of a time when unabashed jubilation was not only appropriate, but so universal that even the famously phlegmatic future queen was caught up in the euphoria. However in our modern more cynical world we have grown suspicious of winning. Winning wars in recent times have delivered very mixed results to the point we're no longer sure what winning really looks like. Even in sport, on the eve of the first cricket test match against New Zealand, the English team seem to have lost the will to win, a pale shadow of the team that dominated the world just four short years ago - they cannot now even face picking the best players.
I wonder what winning would look and feel like for the Go and Grow project, even if that is the appropriate language? The Bible has few scruples about naming victory, sometimes in a way that sounds quite triumphalistic to our twenty first century sensitivities; for example 1 John 5:4: everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Go and Grow has certainly been a titanic struggle so far, worthy of an epic Hollywood underdog-wins-through movie. At every twist and turn we have met intractable obstacles and have battled against all odds to win through, only to be faced with the next hurdle being even higher than the last. Winning is of course only really worthwhile through struggle, when one comes to the very brink of losing. Only once the desolation of failure has loomed large over us, will any success taste sweet. In the case of Go and Grow, if we succeed, the victory will be sweet indeed.