The Inspiring Legacy of Eric Liddell
One of the great stories of Olympic history is the story of Eric Liddell. He is well known for winning a gold medal in an event that was not his best, the 400 meters, in the 1924 Olympics. He ran the 400 because he refused to run his best event, the 100 meters, which was run on the Lord’s Day, Sunday. As a committed Christian, he felt that Sunday was a day set aside for worship and rest, and this conviction led him not to compete. There was a movie made about him in 1981 known as Chariots of Fire that followed his story and showed his surprise win in the 400-meter dash.
After the Olympics, he admirably gave up running in his prime to go to the mission field in China. He left the royal treatment he received in Scotland to live an unglamorous life of serving others in China. In Liddell’s most famous quote he said, “I believe that God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast and when I run I feel his pleasure.” Liddell knew that God made him to run like a deer. As he ran he felt his pleasure and God gave him this platform to glorify him. In addition, Liddell certainly felt the pleasure of God as he went to the mission field in China, knowing that this was the ministry God called him to.
Living out Your Calling: A Personal Reflection
When I look at the life of Eric Liddell, I see one who lived the life that God called him to live. It is a joy to read Christian lives of the past who ran their race well and have gone on to their reward (Hebrews 12:1). I write this to encourage each of you to do the same. The Bible calls you to give the best you have for God while you are here on earth. The wisdom of God through King Solomon tells us, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
In this life, you have an opportunity to make a difference. You get one shot at this life and so what will your legacy be? Will it be a life of mediocrity where you squandered your time, or will you live a life worth examining? Jesus calls his followers to be influential in whatever sphere he has placed them. The goal that God has for believers is not that they make a name for themselves. We should heed the counsel of John the Baptist that, “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Living a Life of Influence: A Challenge to Christians
Jesus tells you to let your light shine wherever he has put you, and others will look on and be drawn to your legacy. This legacy is one of God’s works being produced in you, and through this God is praised. Timothy had a specific ministry that God called him to and Paul instructed him by God’s grace to carry it out. The calling to ministry is not for pastors and missionaries alone, but also to every Christian.
As you do this your experience will be similar to that of Eric Liddell. Liddell felt the pleasure of God as he used his gift of running, and then his gifting that enabled him to be an excellent missionary that impacted many lives in China. Our lives are like a window that shuts a little bit each day. One day the window will completely shut and our earthly life will be over. It is sobering to realize that we will never get another chance to make our life count in this world for God.
People remember Eric Liddell because he made his life count for Christ. The important thing is that we are faithful where he has placed us. God is great and glorious and one of the ways he shows this to the world is through the lives of his servants who live well here. May we live lives that are used by God to inspire others to seek Christ in their lives. A life that draws others to God is a life well lived. As Liddell once said, “We are all missionaries wherever we go. We either draw people nearer to Christ or we repel them from him.” May we be those who are used by God to bring praise to his great name while he has us here.