Chariots of Fire
I can remember watching portions of a movie which came out in 1981 titled, “Chariots of Fire.” It was the story of an Olympian and Christian missionary to China, Eric Liddell. In everything he did he honored God.
Eric was born in 1902 in China. His parents were missionaries to China at the time. When it came time for his schooling, he was sent back to England to attend Eltham College. After he finished there he went onto Edinburgh University where he studied science.
Athletics Led Him to the Paris Olympics
But one of his loves was athletic competitions. He excelled at running, rugby, and cricket. He played on the Scottish national rugby team. In 1923 he set a record in 100 yard sprint. Due to his national running record, he was sent to Paris for the 1924 Olympics.
When he found out that the 100 meter heats would be run on Sunday he withdrew and only ran in the 400 meters, due to it not having a heat on Sunday. During one of his final runs at the Paris Olympics a U.S. Olympic masseur gave him a piece of paper on which was written, 1 Sam. 2:30: ‘Those who honor me, I will honor.’
He ended up winning gold in the 400m and a bronze in the 200m race. After the Olympics he prepared to return to China to be a missionary. He reached the shores of China in 1925. While there he married and had 3 daughters.
WWII, Advancing Japanese Army
Then in 1941 with WWII in full array, and the advancing Japanese army at their heels, the Liddells retreated to a rural mission station in the Western part of China. Everyone was kept busy with the stream of refugees coming through. Two years after their arrival, the Japanese were once more at his doorstep. This time he was arrested and sent to a Japanese concentration camp.
Through the two years he was a camp prisoner the other camp prisoners noted him for his strong moral character and his unifying force through helping to ease the tension throughout the camp. One of his fellow internees said of him, ‘he taught me to forgive the Japanese.’
Eric died in February, 1945 from a brain tumor while still a prisoner at the camp. This was after he had turned down an opportunity to be released, through a prisoner exchange program. A pregnant women took his place.
Even decades later he was still so popular among his fellow Scotsmen that they voted him the most popular Scottish sports figure of all time in 2002.
Eric’s whole life was one of honoring God and obeying Him. When was the last time you honored Him?