Eric Liddell

   

"I don’t need explanations from God. I simply believe Him and accept whatever comes my way.”

He crouched at the starting line of the Olympic track, waiting nervously for the starting gunshot to go off. He was competing in the Paris Olympics of 1924, but his chances for winning were very poor. The 400-meter race was not his strongest run, and he knew it. The 100-meter race was by far his best chance at a gold medal, but 100-meter had been scheduled for a Sunday. That was no good. Eric Liddell always refused to run on the Lord’s Day.

Born on January 16, 1902, Eric Liddell was the son of missionaries to China. Spending most of his younger years at school in Scotland, he was known for being both humble and athletic – a rare combination in most athletes. He loved races and rugby; and he excelled in them so much that he was encouraged to enter competition for the Olympics!

He trained hard, and it was a long journey to become an Olympian athlete. He and his teammates were very disappointed when they arrived in Paris to learn that “his” race, the 100-meter race, had been scheduled for the one day he could not – would not – run. Liddell’s conscience felt compelled to honor God by resting and “not doing his own thing” on God’s special day. He wanted to do whatever he could to bring attention to God’s glory. He understood God’s nature and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Liddell’s motto was, “He who honors Me, I will honor.”

So Liddell had a race in front of him now that was 3x longer than the one he was accustomed to running well. The gunshot sounded and the race began. In his signature style, he threw back his head and ran with absolute abandon, giving it everything he had for all 400 meters. When he crossed the finish line, the crowds thundered with shouts and applause. Not only had he finished the race, but he had finished first! He had also broken the previous record! God gave Eric Liddell a gold medal after all that day.

After those Olympics, Liddell returned to China as a missionary. He learned the difficult Chinese language and told everyone he met about the Gospel. Whatever he did – running, preaching, living out the Gospel – he was faithful and gracious. People were attracted to his determination and humility and wanted to know more about his God. His life story pointed all kinds of people to his Savior. There was even a movie made about his story (Chariots of Fire).

Do your decisions and priorities make it clear to everyone around you that you love and value your Savior more than your own fame and reputation? Have you ever risked losing something you really wanted because you felt God would be displeased with you for going after it? Are you truly humble about God’s gifts to you? Do people praise your talents and your gifts only, or are they able to see beyond them to the One Who gave you what you have?

Isaiah 40:31 – But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.