On Monday, the final Grand Slam of the tennis season will commence in Flushing, Queens. Being a New Yorker, it is my favorite event because of the night drama that the tennis brings and the atmosphere when a local American is in the hunt. We all know that American tennis is not what it once was in the days of Sampras, Agassi, Connors, McEnroe and many others. However, there is only one American in the top ten men and it is not Andy Roddick.
This year, the American tennis fan will put their hope into veteran Mardy Fish. Fish is the eight seed for the tournament that will have its draw today. Two years ago, he was an afterthought in the tennis world struggling through a rash of injuries and a lack of fitness. Now, he is competing with the top players in the world at the age of 29, which is old in the tennis world. He had a great US Open series and I will make the bold prediction that he is going to win the whole tournament!
Sometimes, as Christians, it is tough to be the only one in our circle of friends that look to Christ as our Lord and Savior. It reminds me of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were in captivity by the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar tells the people that they need to bow down and worship his idol of gold when they hear the music or be thrown in the fiery furnace.
However, the three men who were high in Nebuchadnezzar’s circle chose not to obey his order. “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
Even when he threw the three men into the furnace that was seven times hotter, God still delivered them because they stood their ground for the Almighty! The Lord was even with them in the furnace, which made the king decree that everybody should obey the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Today, I exhort you to keep standing right for God even though it might not be the most popular thing in this world. As Christians, we are just foreigners here until we go home to our Father in heaven. It is all about doing what is right for him. American tennis will be back to the top soon, but until then, Fish is the model from what hard work and dedication can bring to an athlete.
Paul wrote to the people at Colossus: “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:24). The three men in the furnace knew that even if they died in there, they would go to Heaven for honoring the Lord their God. If we honor the Lord with our hard work, even if others do not agree, the Lord will give us the ultimate reward in heaven!