Michael Chang: The Ultimate Victory
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Michael Chang was just a kid when he first burst onto the pro tennis scene in 1987. He had been on the Tour for little more than a year when, at age 17, he stunned the tennis world by upsetting all-time greats like Ivan Lendl and Stefan Edberg on the way to his first Grand Slam title--the 1989 French Open. His name was entered into the history books as the youngest player ever to win a Grand Slam event!
Now, in his 10 years as a pro, he has reached the finals of three of the four Grand Slams (the Australian, the French, and the U.S. Open). He has captured over 30 tournament titles, earning more than $14 million in prize money. For seven years, he's been ranked as one of the top ten players in the world.
On the tennis circuit his persistence and determination are nearly legendary. As Edberg has said, "Chang never gives up." Referring to his intensity and his amazing ability to get to "impossible" shots, one sportwriter called Michael "the most exciting player since Jimmy Connors." Another concluded, "Jim Courier speaks for all the pros when he says, 'You have to play your best tennis to beat him.'"
One of the world's best players, Chang is committed to going out and giving his best every time he steps onto the court. And off the court, he goes out of his way to reach out to his fans and have a positive impact on their lives. He makes time to sign autographs and answers their questions; he participates in a variety of special charities, tennis clinics, and youth-oriented programs. He talks to children, reminding them to work hard in school.
Since professional tennis is a year-round sport with tournaments played at stadiums and arenas all over the world, Michael has a pretty hectic schedule. The reason he invests so much of his time in touching the lives of his fans is that his ultimate goal is not a ranking or a Grand Slam victory. "I've received so much joy, so much love, and so many blessings from the Lord," he says. "Now I'm just constantly trying to surrender myself to Him so that the Holy Spirit can do His work through me. I pray that my actions and words would be used to glorify Him."
That's why at every opportunity Michael always points people to the one thing that has had the greatest impact on his life: having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Although he grew up in a Christian home, it wasn't until his teenage years that his faith became a truly personal experience. "I became a Christian the first year I was on the Tour," recalls Michael. "The wonderful thing is that I look back at my life and I can see that even before I was a Christian, He was there looking out for me. Life will have its ups and downs, but regardless of what's happening in our lives, if we're focusing on Him, we'll have the joy and the peace that He gives us."
That joy and peace can only come from knowing Jesus Christ and receiving Him as your Lord and Savior. You can experience the same purpose and fulfillment that Michael has found by acknowledging your need for the Lord. The Bible tells us that everyone has sinned and fallen short of God's righteous and holy standards. Our sin separates us from him and brings death, and yet God is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He loves us and wants us to know and love Him. He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sin by dying on the cross. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). If we ask God's forgiveness and turn away from our sin by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can receive God's gift of eternal life.
If you'd like to receive this precious gift, pray a simple prayer like this:
"Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I turn from my sin and believe that You died on the cross for me. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me a new, everlasting life in You. Amen."
© 2002 Good News Publishers. Used by permission.