35 + 30 = 65. That’s the combined ages of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, a total that is less than my age on its own. So will you excuse me for feeling weary as I walked home from the gym on Friday after a gruelling 45 minute session of non-stop activity? When I left the house, Rafa was playing Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-final of the Australia Open. When I got home they were still playing. A total of five hours of running and hitting. And then today, Rafa appeared with Roger to contest a battle royal as these two tennis greats had spectators in suspense for over three hours until Roger Federer triumphed and won the trophy.
What is admirable about these two men? Their skill, tenacity, desire, fitness (after both had had long injury lay-offs,) and what else? Above all I admire their perseverance. Why do they continue? Because they love the game and they want to give their best. So they keep going and keep giving and keep working.
St Paul had a similar determination. He likened the life of a Christian to that of a runner – a marathon runner rather than a sprinter. His life had included beatings, shipwreck, and imprisonment. He wrote, “Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last for ever. That is why I run straight for the finishing line…” Towards the end of his life he wrote, “I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance and I have kept the faith.”
I can work hard(ish) at the gym in order to look after my ageing body, but I also need to persevere, as Paul did, in keeping the faith that I claim to stand for. That’s my goal. What’s yours?