Tomorrow sees the Euros final. But Sunday also sees the men’s singles final at Wimbledon; for me, synonymous with the early phase of the holiday season — high summer indeed.
Like many other people, I’m a lover of sport, though I appreciate that’s not the case for lots of other folk.
My main sporting passion has been cricket, but I’ve long maintained that a great game of tennis between two top players is the pinnacle of sporting excellence.
Recent years have spoiled us as we’ve watched various permutations of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray slugging it out in marvellous matches of mammoth proportions.
And watching a film this week based on the Borg/McEnroe final of 1980 brought a host of older memories flooding back.
What we see on court is only the tip of the iceberg — an apt metaphor for Borg, whose icy cool in matches was imposing and legendary.
The film gave us a more rounded picture of the deep complexities of both players, especially Borg.
We applaud — and rightly — the skill and physical prowess of top sports people, but it’s their mental fortitude that really separates the best from the good; the ability not just to get to the top, but stay there for a lengthy period.
Let me suggest that top-level tennis is a decent analogy for life with God. The scoring system means that every point potentially counts and also brings you to the brink of winning or losing at many junctures within a match.
Such is the life of faith, too: we often find ourselves peering down into depths, or up to prospects that tantalise with fulfilment. Keeping your nerve is a key virtue.
And in great matches, both players often bring out the best in each other, shots and rallies almost defying belief and bringing delight to enthralled spectators.
Life with God is somewhat akin. To grow in faith is not to sit back, switch off and let God do it all. It’s to find that God evokes more from you as you raise your “game” to a greater level than would have been the case otherwise.
Faith and works have a direct, not an inverse, proportion. The more you trust, the more you risk, the more you strive and might well achieve, too.