Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chariots of Fire

Last week, I rented Chariots of Fire in hopes that I would gain some inspiration for the rest of my marathon training. In all honesty the movie was pretty boring. And I guess that could also be because it was released in the same month that I was born almost 28 years ago. Not much motivation there.

What I did find, surprisingly, was inspiration for faith. The movie is based on the true story of two men who compete in the 100m run at the 1924 Olympics. Harold Abrahams is a Jewish man who has to overcome antisemitism and class discrimination in order to run and Eric Liddell is a missionary who runs because he believes it brings pleasure to God. These are both beautiful themes and are probaby why the movie won 4 Oscars. My favorite moment in the movie came when Eric Liddell preached this mini-sermon after winning a race...

"You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It's hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape - especially if you've got a bet on it. But how long does that last? You go home. Maybe you're dinner's burnt. Maybe you haven't got a job. So who am I to say, "Believe, have faith," in the face of life's realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me." If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race. "

With each half marathon I've run, I find myself immediately full of excitement and pride for the accomplishment of crossing the finish line. This usually lingers for a few days at most, but is then quickly replaced with lethargy and a lack of motivation! After you spend 3 months preparing for a less than 2 hour performance, it's kind of a let down to be finished so quickly. I hear that this is the worst after running a marathon so I'm trying to prepare in every way possible.

I love how the writer names the difficulty of running and notes that it takes a strong desire and energy from within to complete the task. Because I run, I can see the easy relation to faith. You have to want to grow closer to God and you have to spend a lot of time and energy doing so or you'll never grow.

As many long distance runners will tell you, "it's about the journey, not the destination." It's about the 6 months that you spend training for a marathon, the 4 hours that you spend out on the course, the people you meet, the sites you see along the way, and what you learn about yourself. All of that means more than crossing electronic sensors and recording your finish time.

So it is in faith--it's about how you live each moment of your life, because while we are on this earth there is no stopping point, no finish line. God desires for us to continually seek our Creator, no matter how un-motivated we may feel. Growing closer to God doesn't stop when we leave church on Sunday afternoon, or when we complete a Bible study, or come home from a retreat. It is constant work, as is anything in life--marathons, parenting, work, you name it--but if you commit yourself to the love of Christ and seek God with all of your heart, you will surely walk closer with the Great Shepherd.

1 comment:

  1. Hello

    If you are looking for further information about Eric Liddell we maintain an archive of information about him including the original film of him winning the gold medal in 1924 which you can view online.

    You can find out more about Eric Liddell on our web site:


    Just click on Eric Liddell at the top of the page.


    Gordon Hudson
    Eric Liddell Centre