Sunday, June 5, 2011

Game, Set, Match!

--
Sometimes a tennis match can be a great sermon.

On Sunday, June 5, 2011, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer met for their fourth French Open Final. Much has been written and spoken of the epic rivalry between these two great and refreshingly humble champions; today's match only added to their lore.

Each of them had moments where it looked like they would let it all slip away, only to rally and turn the momentum around. Each one had to exercise a little selective amnesia after an unforced error or a critical set lost. Each one played every point as if the whole match hung upon that one point (many times it almost did), and each one had to dig deep to believe he could come back even when behind and staring into the steely eyes of a powerful opponent. It was everything a championship match should be, one you wish no one had to lose.  One of the commentators highlighted the fact that these two great athletes consistently bring out the best in each other.



 

We live our lives in an epic match all our own. Sometimes we look brilliant and unbeatable, other times we look like we're going down to certain defeat. We are faced with our own mistakes, mis-hits and missed opportunities and we can either dwell on those mistakes and lose precious time, or we can forget what is behind and play the point in front of us, confident that all is not lost! Sometimes our opponent is just too strong and it looks like we will surely be bested by him--but unlike Federer and Nadal, we are not on that court alone! We have an unseen Teammate who plays alongside us and makes up for all we lack and who gives us His strength when ours is too small. This life we live, this match we play, is all designed to bring out the best in us, to display God's glory in and through us.

At the end of four sets, one critical point settled game, set and match and it was Rafael Nadal who dropped to his hands and knees on the rich red clay of Roland Garros Stadium in relieved celebration. You could almost sense him flashing back over two weeks of turbulent tournament play that had led him to this exultant moment of victory. So many moments that could have gone the other way. So many times the entire tournament was on the line. Finally, all the sweat and intensity, all the try and discipline, all the heart and courage and determination came to a beautiful apex of emotion as the silver cup was placed in his hands and the Spanish national anthem played, his mother beaming, his father wiping away proud tears.

It is to such a moment that our hearts are inexorably drawn, knowing that someday we will get to hit the final winner for game, set and match point! With our tournament finished we will drop to our knees in reverent gratitude to the One who is the victory-Giver. The victory Jesus won on Calvary's cross enables us to play victoriously too. Someday the only tears we cry will be happy ones and Heaven's anthem will play in a triumphant crescendo as we rejoice in the thrill of the ultimate win!

I pray that something of the grit and glory I watched on display in the final match of the French Open will be on display in how I play the match I've been given to play. I pray that it would not just be a momentary inspiration I take away from the example set by these two amazing champions, but that I would be keenly aware of how and when to turn that inspiration into action in my life every day.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."  Philippians 3:12 NIV

What or who inspires you to greatness?
________________________________

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

#536-550
536. Spicy red pepper hummus
537. Getting "yes" for an answer
538. My first time seeing a 3D movie at the theater!
539. Surprise dinner out with my family at The Habit Grill
540. Pineapple on a teriyaki burger
541. Another instrument added to She So Sweet's expression of her inner music
542. Laughter serenaded by guitars
543. A much better price than I expected!
544. The feeling I get when my family likes dinner especially the way I make it
545. Popcorn
546. Cream Soda
547. Waking up to the quietly deafening thrum of a big Pacific storm full of steady rain
548. The scent of budding lavender after the rain
549. Tomato plants transplanted and looking happy about it
550. All of us home for dinner around the table

Joining L.L. Barkat for:
On In Around button

Joining Michelle DeRusha for:


and joining Jen's Sisterhood:


A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

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