The Flying Scotsman – Eric Liddell

June 22, 2009
by John Stuart

Philippians 3:7 – But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. (NIV)

If you've ever seen the movie, Chariots of Fire, you'll know that it's about Great Britain's highly successful 1924 Olympic sprinting team. The movie focuses on two runners, Harold Abrahams from England and Eric Liddell from Scotland. Both won gold medals and became national heroes, but each of them had different reasons for wanting success.

Harold Abrahams was a British Jew, and he wanted to be accepted for who he was, in the midst of an elite class system, where he was treated as an outsider. His gold medal opened the doors of opportunity, for which he was desperately searching, and enabled him at last to take his place at the table with his elitist peers.

Eric Liddell was different. He was the son of Christian missionaries, who ran for the glory of God and who said that when he was sprinting, he could feel God's pleasure, because he was truly using the gifts that God had given him. In the movie, as Liddell sprints down the field in the last lap of the 440 yards at the Olympic Games, there is a great joy in his face, which communicates that he is at one with God and that everything else doesn't matter. He wins the gold, but better than that, Eric Liddell had his eye on the prize of eternal life and gave God the glory for his great victory.

Eric didn't capitalize on his success like Abrahams. He put it all behind him, soon after the Olympics were over. He went to China to follow in his parents' footsteps of bringing the gospel to the Asian people. Sadly, during World War II, he was imprisoned in a Japanese concentration camp, where he became seriously sick with a tropical disease, and died. But the Scottish people never forgot his great victory, and still claim him as a national hero, next to likes of William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and David Livingstone.

Like Paul, many centuries before him, Eric Liddell set aside his victories and success, and sought to glorify Jesus. He was a true Christian, who believed in running the even greater race, in the lanes that lead to everlasting love, through his allegiance, loyalty, and devotion to Christ.

Today, we may be pursuing power and esteem, victory and success in our lives, our careers, and our homes. But let us not forget that all of these things are of this transitory world and that there are a higher power and glory, victory and salvation to which we should aspire, which are far above and beyond any success and esteem that we will ever experience here.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all have goals and dreams; we all want to be praised and appreciated; we all want to be successful and secure in our lives. Sometimes these things get in the way of our devotion to You; sometimes we allow ourselves to be distracted and obsessed by our own power and glory, instead of giving You the honour, the appreciation, and the thanks for the blessings we receive. Help us this day to praise You for all that we accomplish and to put You at the centre of all that we achieve. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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