Listen to: Theme song from "Chariots of Fire" by Vangelis, with clips from the movie:
We all have our favorite athletes. Michael Phelps (aquatics). Carl Lewis (track and field). Abebe Bikila (Ethiopian gold-medal runner). Emil Zatopek (Czech Runner). Oscar Pistorious (the "fastest man with no legs," a double amputee sprint runner from South Africa). Kerri Strug (gymnast). Usain Bolt (Jamaican sprinter). Sadaf Rahimi (Afghani female boxer). Jesse Owens (track and field). Teofilo Stevenson (cuban boxer).
Then there is Eric Liddell, whose life inspired the award-winning movie, "Chariots of Fire" (1981). Liddell, the son of missionaries, won a bronze and gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Because of his religious convictions, He refused to race on Sunday, when his best event (100 meter) was scheduled. Liddell may be known for his outstanding come-back in the 400 meter race, but his life shone with other Olympic qualities.
Liddell always shook hands with other competitors prior to races and came alongside competitors who were being shunned because they were different.
As a Christian he found that his greatest strength came from God. It was because of this strength that he returned to the mission field in China. It was dangerous work.
The villages Liddell worked in were caught in between the war between Communists and Nationalists. Both sides would pillage and destroy villages Liddell served. The Japanese invaded China and in 1940 Liddell sent his wife and children to Canada. He stayed behind in Tientsin to continue his work. Liddell was sent by the Japanese to the Weihsien Internment Camp. He worked tirelessly in the camp, doing just about anything that needed to be done, whether it was bible study, teaching children who were trying to keep up their studies, or organizing sports. In a prisoner exchange bargain, his freedom was arranged by Winston Churchill, but he gave it up and let a pregnant woman leave instead. He died on 21 February 1945, five months before liberation. Liddell's last words were, "It's complete surrender", in reference to how he had given his life to his God.
We probably will never qualify for the Olympics let alone win a local event. But we can, like Liddell, live our life to win the heavenly prize -- by letting God's love manifest in all we do. Let us run the race and make the course worth running.
"Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me." If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race." "Chariots of Fire," Eric Liddell
PRAY: “May we run the race God has set before us”