Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chariot Of Fire

Once upon a time....There was a man named Eric Liddell.  Eric was born in China in 1902.  His family returned to their native home in Scotland in 1907.  Eric grew up in a religious home and excelled as an athlete.  He was a runner and played rugby.  He soon found with school that he didn't have enough time to devote to both sports activities so he chose to focus on running.  Eric soon gained national attention for his skill in the 100 and 200 metre runs and entered the 1924 Olympic games.  Because of his devote Christian beliefs, Eric dropped out of the 100 metre run, his strongest event, because the final was scheduled to be run on a Sunday.  He instead entered the 200 and 400 metre runs.  He took 3rd in the 200 metre and in the 400 metre, starting in the outside lane, Eric sprinted out of the blocks and set such an astonishing pace that two racers stumbled trying to catch him. He won the race with record time of 47.6 sec.  His athletic story is portrayed in the film, Chariots of Fire.  At the end of the film there is a short line that says he returned to China and died.  But his story does not stop after the 1924 Olympic games- In fact that is where his real story only begins. 
  Following the Olympic games in Paris Eric went back to China to do missionary work with his father.  There he was married and had 3 daughters, the last of which he never knew because events leading up to WWII caused his wife to take their children out of the country.  Eric, who chose to stay, was put into a Japanese internment camp.  Life in the camp was hard but Eric, as he had done his whole life, continued to live by the principles he believed.  He knew and trusted God.  He was assigned to teach science and oversee sporting and recreational activities for the children in the camp.  "He helped carry the coal for those who were older or disabled to ensure their stoves would continue to burn.  He did not let the fact he was hungry, imprisoned, or away from his family stop him."  He was always serving others.  Eric died in the camp due to an inoperable brain tumor.  "At his funeral, the Reverend Arnold Bryson, a close friend of Eric, said, 'What was the secret of his consecrated life and far-reaching influence?'  Absolute surrender to God's will."  Eric's last words were said to have been, "Complete Surrender"- a motto he used often in his sermons. 
If you ask this man if he was happy-through all the trials he faced, I think he would say yes.  This man put his faith in God and chose to serve those around him even when he himself was suffering. His attitude was one to emulate.  Even as he suffered severe headaches from his tumor he carried burdens and taught children- he brightened the lives of those suffering around him.  Even in the midst of his own pain and sorrow.  Not only was he a man who had gained the prise of the world through his athletic abilities, but he was also a man who let that go and gained the praise of children and the elderly.  He was a man who had the respect of his wife and children.  He was a man who will be, and should be, remembered by generations. 

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