He didn’t win the most points, but he won the most important point – the last point.
John Isner was playing an opening round tennis match at Wimbledon against Nicolas Mahut of France. They began the match on Tuesday and each player won two sets. That put them in the deciding fifth set. At Wimbledon there are no tie breakers in a fifth set. Someone has to win by two games.
Isner and Mahut each held his own serve throughout the fifth set. The fifth set went on and on – the longest in history. Since Wimbledon has a curfew at 11:00 pm, the fifth set was stopped on the second night at 11:00 pm. They had already been playing about 9 hours. The match finally ended on Thursday with Isner winning 70-68 in the fifth set!!
That is incredible. Whether you like tennis or not, it has become the lead sports story. That is a record that will probably never be broken.
In the fifth set there were 711 points. Mahut won more points than Isner in the fifth set 365-346. He also won more points in the overall match of five sets 502-478.
But Isner won the most important point – the last one. It was a backhand winner down the line. It allowed Isner to break Mahut’s serve, which was only the second time he had done that the entire match.
Tennis, like life, is really a simple game. You have to win the last point. It not how many points you win – it is whether you win the most important point.
Football and basketball are similar. It doesn’t matter how many minutes of the game you are ahead – all you have to do is be ahead by one point when the final horn sounds. You need one more point than the opponent. It doesn’t matter how many innings you are behind in baseball; all you have to do is be one run ahead at the final out. Golf is a little strange, but it is that same principle in reverse. In golf all you have to do is have one less stroke when you finish the final hole.
Life is like that. You can win a lot of points in life, but you must win the most important point – the last one. A lot of people accomplish a lot of honors, awards and milestones – but the most important thing in life is our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. When the final horn sounds, that is the only point that is important.
It is interesting that Isner and Mahut did not give the customary handshake at the end of the match. Isner reached across the net and gave him a big hug. They had made history. Isner told the crowd, “You know, it stinks that someone had to lose.”
Life is tough, but fair – every person has the chance to win or lose. The ultimate victory in eternal life is available to every person. It is God’s desire that no one lose in the most important game in town – life. That is why he gave the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The thief on the cross realized this. He had wins and losses in the moments of his life, but he won in the most important moment of his life. Hanging on a cross, he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42, 43) He won in the last moment – the moment that really counted.
Nobody really knew when that Wimbledon match would end. It lasted three days. Some matches last less than an hour. It is not how long the match lasts – the winner is always the one who wins the last point.
Life is very uncertain. We don’t know how long life will last. Some people live a few days and some people live a lot of years. Still the one who wins is the one who wins in the most important point – knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
You may be winning a lot of points in life. The real question for each of us is, “Am I winning the most important point?”