Chariots of Fire is one of my all-time favorite movies. It tells the true story of Eric Liddell, a Scotsman who was a tremendously fast athlete and also a devoted Christian. He gained much notoriety through his athletic accomplishments while at the University of Edinburgh, even setting a world record of 9.7 seconds in the 100-yard dash. But in Liddell’s mind, he was a Christian first and an athlete second. This conviction, however, would be challenged on the largest athletic stage in the world.
The 1924 Olympics were held in Paris and Eric Liddell was to participate in two races, the 100-meter and 400-meter. The 100-meter race, however, was scheduled to be run on a Sunday, the Lord’s Day, a day of rest. Liddell had never run a race on a Sunday out of reverence and commitment to the Lord. He was now being asked to break such a commitment, and the world was watching. He didn’t flinch. And he didn’t run. But he still won…
The 400-meter race was not scheduled on Sunday, and therefore Eric ran in it. It wasn’t his strongest race and no one expected much out of him. But as he stepped up to the starting blocks on the day of the race, an American slipped a piece of paper into his hand that had 1 Samuel 2:30 scribbled on it, “Those who honor me I will honor.” Eric ran every step of the race with that piece of paper firmly gripped in his hand. And he not only won the race, but set a new world record!
Do you think Eric Liddell enjoyed the difficulty of the decision he made in Paris in 1924? I doubt it. I’m sure his flesh rose up and wanted to run in that race, in spite of what it would have meant to his conviction before the Lord and testimony before a watching world. We have all been there. That is why it takes courage to obey the voice of the Lord. It takes guts to say “no” when everyone else is saying “yes.” But let us encourage one another, just like the American encouraged Eric, that our obedience to God will honor Him, and ultimately He will honor us.
Run the race of life with courage!