Many of you will have seen the movie Chariots of Fire. The film portrays the life of Eric Henry Liddell who gained fame because his religious beliefs clashed with the athletic world.

Liddell was missionary kid, born in Tientsin China, who grew up with a missionary heart. He was an amazingly gifted athlete and sportsman. His fame came during the Paris Olympics of 1924. He is remembered by more than sports enthusiasts today because of the storm he caused by going against the rules and refusing to run a heat held on a Sunday. It was a heat for the 100 metres which was his best event.  This decision couldn’t have been easy for Liddell, and he was under pressure from his team and his country. I’m positive there was an internal battle as well, holding to his beliefs or grasping for glory.

Eric, knowing in advance the issues with the heat, started training for the 400 metres. However, it was unlikely that he would be able to claim a prize in the longer event. Just before the race someone from the American Olympic Team slipped him a piece of paper. “‘Those who honour me, I will honour’, 1 Samuel 2:30”, was written on the note. God did indeed honour him not only with a win but with a world record, a record that stood for twelve years!

Most don’t realise that Eric Liddell went back to China. When he was asked if he regretted leaving behind the world of athletics and all the accolades that went with it, he replied, “It’s natural for a chap to think over all that sometimes, but I’m glad I’m at the work I’m engaged in now. A fellow’s life counts for far more at this than the other.”

The movie focuses in on his talent, but Eric Liddell knew how to serve. Years before, George Robertson, his headmaster, described Eric as being “entirely without vanity”.  In China, Eric served as a missionary. He stayed when his wife and children were evacuated because of Japanese occupation. He stood out as selfless in the middle of a Japanese internment camp where instead of being self-focused he concentrated on making life better for others. It was there Eric died.

Just before the Beijing Olympics in 2008, another fact emerged which demonstrated Eric’s character. Liddell had been given an opportunity to leave the internment camp but he refused; instead, he gave up his place to a pregnant lady.

I remember watching ‘Chariots of Fire’ years ago. Tears streamed down my face as I thought about how brave this man was to take a stand. Today there are also many brave people taking a stand. They are staying true to their beliefs even though those beliefs aren’t popular. The same holds true today as held true then, those who honour God, He will honour.

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Don’t give up; you are making an impression on history!

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