It was one of the most emotional moments of my recent experience. Breathing was becoming difficult, tears were forming in my eyes and I was hugging my neighbour like our lives depended upon it. I suspect almost everyone in the UK rose to their feet in unison, raised their fists in the air and screamed at their television, “He’s done it!”

It’s a rare thing indeed to witness and be a part of such a moment of national celebration. For those few minutes we were united in our triumph and ecstatic in our joy. We can only imagine how Andy Murray’s actual family felt, after all, most of us don’t even know the man. So what was it that created such an outpouring of emotional connection with a shy, 26-year-old tennis player as he dropped his racket, looked up to the stands and raised his hands in triumph?

Everybody loves a winner but more than that everyone loves to celebrate when the underdog comes good and claims the crown. I’ve never thought Andy Murray was the underdog as he’s always been a better tennis player than me. But I think it would be fair to say that British tennis has been the underdog for quite some time and here was it’s only hope finally coming through. However, I think our connection with Andy is so much more than support for British tennis.

Andy Murray has proved himself to be a winner in the battle of life. Determined to succeed in his mission, Andy has committed everything he has to achieving that goal. Despite setbacks, injury, failure and loss he has constantly pushed through the negative outcomes. He has listened to wise counsel, trained without ceasing and focused his eyes and his mind on the prize. One of the many comments he has made in the past twenty-four hours reflected on not letting the past ‘lost chances’ affect him, but always looking forward to gaining the next point in the match.

How many of us allow the failures and mistakes of our past to colour and affect our future? Can we achieve the mission God has set before us, if we allow our past errors to adversely shape who we are? There’s no doubt a large part of an athlete’s training comes from the post-game review, setting the priorities to train to do better next time. But how many of us avoid the pain of honest self-reflection and simply dwell on the failure, never expecting we might grow through the hurt and achieve some greater measure of worth beyond it.

Many would say the life of a truly great athlete is one of commitment, discipline, and sacrifice. A mind-set totally focused on the reward and devoted to reaching it.

The apostle Paul said it so much better.

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. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

As I read these words I find myself again inspired to focus on no other prize and to sacrifice all in the effort of its attainment.

 

Fiona McDonald
Director of National Ministries