22 April 2010 (Chamashee/Teruah)|
Day #38, 5934 AM
The Testimony of an Athlete
I wonder if Chariots of Fire is one of your favourite movies like it is mine? It's the story of the 1924 Paris Olympics and two gifted British athletes. Both men became famous when they won their respective races - Harold Abrahams, a haughty sprinter with an obsession for winning, and Erik Lidell, a devout Christian who runs only for the glory of God. Abrahams is motivated by his fear of losing making his quest torturous and ultimately his victory is empty whereas Lidell runs to repay God for the gifts He has given him and is at peace with himself.
A year after his triumph, Lidell went to China where he spent the last 20 years of his life as a missionary teacher and rural pastor. There he ran the greatest race of his life against opponents we all understand - difficult circumstances, war, uncertainty, and disease.
When the Japanese invaders came, he was crowded into a concentration camp with 1,500 other people where he lived out the words he had paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 13:6-8:
Eric served the others in the Japanese camp, whether carrying water for the elderly or refereeing games for the teens. When he died of a brain tumor in February 1945, before the war ended, one internee described him as a man "who lived better than he preached".
"Love is never glad when others go wrong. Love finds no pleasure in injustice, but rejoices in the truth. Love is always slow to expose, it knows how to be silent. Love is always eager to believe the best about a person. Love is full of hope, full of patient endurance; love never fails."
In life's most difficult race, Eric Lidell crossed the finish line victorious through the love of Messiah. And that's what we're called to do too.
 David McCasland, The Greatest Race (Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, Michigan: 2008), August 8th