Olympian finished his race and won the ultimate prize
The 2012 Summer Olympics has begun in London, England. It was expected that four billion people worldwide will watch some of the Games of the 30th Olympiad.
According to the official Olympic website (www.London2012.com), some 10,500 Olympic athletes and 4,200 Paralympic athletes will be competing in 46 sports featured in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Track and Field events bring to my mind Olympic runner Eric Liddell from the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. We were introduced to this young man representing Britain in the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire that told his story.
Liddell was born in 1902 in Tientsin, North China to parents who were missionaries with the London Mission Society. He received his education from 1908 – 1920 at a boarding school in England for sons of missionaries. Eric Liddell and his brother were noted rugby players, but Eric began to run, win races, and break records.
Biographers say Eric would rise early each day to meet the Lord in prayer and Bible study. Though he was shy and did not like to speak in public, he was invited by Scottish evangelist, D. P. Thompson, to share his testimony to a group of men. It’s said that he spoke of God’s love he had personally experienced and appealed to people to turn their lives over to God.
Eric Liddell began training for the 100 meter race in preparation for the 1924 Olympics. But, when he found out the qualifying heats would be held on Sunday, he dropped out of the event because he believed he could not honor God and race on Sunday.
He switched to the 400 meter race, though it was four times longer than he had trained for. The 22-year-old runner won the gold in the 400 meter, setting a new world record of 47.6 seconds. He also won a bronze medal in the 200 meter race.
After the Paris Olympics, Liddell returned home a national hero. The next year he followed God’s call on his life and returned to China to teach in the Anglo-Chinese College in Tientsen. He said, “We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ.”
In 1934 he married Florence Mackenzie and they had three daughters - Patricia, Heather and Maureen. His wife and daughters fled China in 1941. With the invasion by the Japanese in 1942, Liddell was placed in a Japanese internment camp.
He won respect for his Christian character by doing whatever he could to help other prisoners, such as organizing athletic events for the children.
Liddell began to suffer severe headaches and died February 21, 1945, just before the camp was liberated. An autopsy revealed he had a massive brain tumor.
Eric Liddell once wrote, “Victory over all the circumstances of life comes not by might, nor by power, but by a practical confidence in God and by allowing His Spirit to dwell in our hearts and control our actions and emotions.”
There’s a Scripture that I believe describes his life, this “one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJ).
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