When was the last time you saw something you knew you would never see again? When I saw this event four years ago, I knew this was a one-time, this-is-it moment. Never. Again. Sure enough, it’s now been a little more than four years and I have never seen anything close to what I saw in June of 2010. I am still convinced it will never happen again.
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The event was the first-round Wimbledon tennis match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. While there had been thousands of tennis matches before – and thousands since – this one was special. Why? Because it turned out to be the longest tennis match in history.
How long? Try 11 hours-5-minutes-over-3-days! (In case you were wondering, the previous record was 6 hours, 33 minutes.) The final score was 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-7, 70-68. Those last two number are games not points! While the focus of this post isn’t specifically tennis, if you love the game as much as I do, take a look at the last four minutes of the match below or read all about it right here…
Here’s where it got interesting…and applicable for you and me…
After the match, one of the sportscasters was interviewing Mahut and pointed out that because of the way everything panned out Mahut had to come back after trailing every time he served in the 5th Set. He was playing from behind for over 7 hours! Tie it up. Fall behind. Tie it up. Fall behind.
They asked him how he handled being on the losing end for so long. This was his response:
Actually, I never thought of it that way. I just always tried to win the game I was playing.”
Mahut’s response got me thinking about how many times I dwell on the circumstances from the past – or the long-term potential for the future – and forget to focus on winning the game I am playing right now.
Whenever I am reminded of “the never ending match” as it was called, I sense God asking me two questions:
Question 1: Are you allowing your failures in the past to diminish your effort in the present?
This is so easy to do. We fail a year – or a decade – ago. The next time we try, the failure creeps in. We focus on the failure rather than being fully present in the current situation. This leads to a high probability of failure this time. Then we let both of those failures inform our next attempt. And on and on it goes.
So often, when we are reminded of a previous failure, the temptation is to either say “Why did this happen?” or “I probably won’t succeed this time either.” While the first option is certainly better than the second, there’s a third option that trumps them all:
“What can I learn from my previous mistake?”
Sometimes the answer will lead to an adjustment you need to make in order to be successful this time around. Other times God will reveal the character trait He was building in you that could only be learned through the initial “failure.” Either way, instead of being defeated, you will be equipped and energized in your present situation.
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV)
Question 2: Are you allowing your circumstances to distract you from your goal?
The temptation to focus on circumstances will always be present and will never be beneficial. I am not saying we don’t need to evaluate our circumstances from time to time. But evaluating and focusing are not the same thing.
Focusing on circumstances will almost always lead us to keep what we don’t have front and center. Focusing on our goal will lead us to keep what we do have (and what we need to adjust) front and center.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.(2 Cor 4:16-18, NLT)
John Isner and Nicolas Mahut both focused on the task at hand. For 11 hours and 5 minutes. Not past failures. Not painful circumstances. The task set before them. That was their focus. (And both of these guys are still in the Top 40 in the world. I’m not surprised.)
[reminder comment=”Share your lesson by clicking here.”]What is one lesson you have learned from losing?[/reminder]