“I believe that God made me for a purpose. For China. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt… To win is to honor Him.” – Eric Liddell, Chariots of Fire
I re-watched Chariots of Fire tonight with the perspective of having recently been in Edinburgh and London, and in immersing myself in the horror of World Wars I & II in reading, visits to museums and the epic long-form Hardcore History podcast on the First World War. It’s an entirely different movie when you watch it through the lens of history and the accumulation of life experience. But then again, the same can be said of life. Too many people ignore the lessons of history, and we all suffer as a result.
Eric Liddell died in a Japanese internment camp in 1945. He’d dedicated (and sacrificed) his life to his missionary work in China. But he’ll always be remembered as an Olympian who chose not to run in a qualifying heat on the Sabbath, who would go on to win the 400 meter sprint and solidify his place in history. You can make a strong case that his Olympic medal was secondary to the rest of his life’s work.
I have no idea if Liddell ever uttered the quote above. But I do know it fits what I know of the man, and I can imagine him saying it. I’m not particularly religious, but the quote resonates for me. We are created by some miracle of God or infinitesimally random luck, completely unique from the 100 billion other people who have ever lived. I’m no Olympic runner, but I have some talents that I work to bring out. Writing seems to be one… if a work in progress. To give it up would be to hold Him (and myself) in contempt… So why not embrace whatever magic makes you who you are?