He Who Serves Best


Several years ago this report came out of England:

“When John Isner finally won the longest match in tennis history, he collapsed on the Wimbledon grass and then summoned one last burst of energy, springing to his feet and applauding along with the crowd. The American hit a backhand up the line Thursday to win the last of the match’s 980 points, and he beat Nicholas Mahut in the fifth set, 70-68. The first-round match took 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days, lasting so long it was suspended because of darkness-two nights in a row.” (Wimbledon, England, Associated Press).

No matter if you are a tennis fan or not, you had to be amazed by the performance of these two men as they battled it out over the course of three days. The longest previous match lasted 6 hours and 33 minutes. Mahut and Isner’s final set alone lasted 8 hours and 11 minutes. I was particularly interested in the statement by John Isner after he had won the match. He said, “When you come out and play a match like this, in an atmosphere like this, you don’t feel tired really out there, even though that’s exactly what we both were.” Isner then said, “It stinks someone had to lose”.

The last statement by Isner caught my attention. We all know that this life is a test of endurance. The scriptures are replete with admonitions regarding this concept.  One of our articles of faith reads, “…we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things.” While enduring to the end is a prerequisite into the kingdom of Heaven, unlike tennis, or any other aspect of this life, no one has to lose in the end. The wonderful thing about the attainment of victory, in the house of the Lord, is that we are not competing against each other. Not only are we not competing, but our “winning” is conditional on our willingness to help others “win”. What a unique concept! How wonderful to know that the success of others does not diminish our own efforts.

The marathon played at Wimbledon showcased 515 unreturned serves and 215 aces. In the game of tennis the winner usually goes to  who “serves” best, be it Isner in the men’s game, or Serena Williams in the women’s. In the game of life it is the same. If we learn to serve others, Christ’s victory will be ours!


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