Over the past two weeks many people in Britain have been following the progress of Andy Murray at Wimbledon.
Hopes were high that this year he would win the tournament, but Roger Federer narrowly beat him in the final. A player from Britain has not won the Wimbledon men’s championship since 1936. Immediately after the match Andy spoke emotionally about his appreciation of all the support he has received from his family, coach and team, and the crowd on the Centre Court. He knew that many people were willing him to win.
Our society puts great emphasis on success. We praise people who get to the top, but put little value on coming second. Television interviewers sometimes give the impression that winning a silver medal is a failure! Andy Murray played really well and lost to a man who is one of the greatest ever tennis players. There is no disgrace in that. Indeed the rise of Andy Murray to sporting excellence is cause for great thankfulness.
On 13 March 1996 Andy was a pupil at Dunblane Primary School when Thomas Hamilton entered the school armed with 4 handguns. He shot and killed 16 children, aged 5 and 6, and their teacher, Gwen Mayor, who was killed trying to protect the children in her care. Hamilton then committed suicide. Andy remembers taking cover in another classroom. He attended a youth group run by Thomas Hamilton and his mother gave him lifts in her car. Andy could so easily have died that day but, in the providence of God, he survived and has gone on to become one of the world’s best tennis players. Every year he is getting better and one day he may well be the Wimbledon Men’s Champion.
The determination of great athletes is a challenge to us all. They are single-minded in their determination to succeed and get to the top, even though their careers last just a few years. Do you have a goal in your life? There are more important things than success. The most important thing is the kind of people we are, rather than great achievements. The Apostle Paul was a man of great energy and determination. As a Christian he had one great goal in life which was to please God. He knew that one day, like us all, he would appear before God and nothing was more important than receiving God’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”