ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Movie Parables: Chariots of Fire

Updated on August 28, 2009

"God Made Me Fast"

The true story of two British track athletes who compete in the 1924 Paris Summer Olympics was captured in the historic film drama Chariots of Fire. Harold Abrahams, a determined Jewish student, ran for personal glory while Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish missionary, ran for the glory of God.

I held my breath during the reenactment of a race held more than sixty years ago. Eric Liddell, an Olympic hopeful, was in a pack of runners and breaking for the lead. Halfway around the track, the audience gasped as he was thrown off balance and came crashing to the ground. As Eric lifted up his head, the camera rapidly zooms in to capture his point-of-view: the other athletes, who never looked back, were pulling away and leaving him in a trail of dust.

The scene lasted for a few seconds. What was flashing in Eric’s mind at that moment? Was he badly injured? Would he get up? And if he did, could he possibly catch up, or much less, finish the race? He got up! And the man broke into a run. As he ran with complete abandon, his arms would flail with no obvious rhythm and he would throw his head back to an almost unnatural angle. It was as though he was looking to heaven for inspiration. The audience was dazed by that unexpected moment. Spontaneous cheers rang out from the sidelines as the fallen runner picked up the pace, closed in on the runners, pulled away from the pack, and finished a distant first.

What was it that ignited Eric’s drive to get up and finish the race? From where did he draw this single-minded passion? Our hint comes midway in the movie when his sister confronts him with a pressing choice. We discover that this determined young man was torn between serving God as a missionary to China and serving his country as a runner in the Olympics. What was his decision? To run the race. What was his reason? “I believe God made me for a purpose,” Eric said, “but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Before the race, Eric learns that his run was scheduled on Sunday. He stood his ground in front of the British Olympic Committee stating, “God made countries. God makes kings, and the rules by which they govern. And those rules say that the Sabbath is His. And I for one intend to keep it that way.” In a sermon on the very Sunday he refused to run, he said, “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 your 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.”

Throughout the athletic competition as a runner and his heavenly calling as a missionary, he never forgot his father’s words of encouragement: “Run in God’s name, and let the world stand back in wonder.” This early experience proved to be a milestone for the young man whom God was preparing for the mission field. He eventually answered his calling and ministered in China as a teacher and missionary.

In March of 1943, due to World War II and the Japanese occupation in China, all foreigners were detained in an internment camp. A brain tumor ravaged Eric’s body with severe headaches and caused him to collapse and die in 1945. His last words, “It’s complete surrender.” Upon learning of Liddell's death, all of Scotland mourned.

Although Eric was acclaimed as a national hero because of how he ran his Olympic race, this is not why we remember him as a hero. Dozens of other Olympians won gold in the 1924 games, and few, if any, are remembered today. The athletic heroes of yesteryear are soon forgotten by succeeding generations, being quickly replaced by the newest sports sensation. Eric Liddell remains a hero today because of how he ran the race of life. He did not live his life to garner prizes or the applause of people. Rather, he lived his life and ran his race to glorify God. He pressed ahead toward the goal for the prize of his heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14).

Eric Liddell’s legacy lives on in the people he influenced for God and the example he leaves for all of us to follow. Known as “The Flying Scotsman,” he ran in the direction of his purposeful vision. He leaves us with a lasting testimony that the pursuit of Olympic Gold pales in comparison to the reward that awaits us in heaven. Even today the world stands back in wonder over the life of this uniquely gifted man, while God in His heaven rejoiced over this good and faithful servant—this chariot of fire!

Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified (1 Cor 9:24-27).

Chariots of Fire (Enigma Productions, 1981) written by Colin Welland (original screenplay) and directed by Hugh Hudson.

Copyright 2009, Gicky Soriano. All rights reserved.

Recommended Reading

Eric Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)
Eric Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)

Eric's refusal earlier that week to run on Sunday in the Olympic 100-meter race had stunned the world. Now his incredible victory in the 400-meter race further strengthened his belief in God's promise, "He who honors Me, I will honor."

Years later, Eric Liddell would be tested far beyond mere physical ability as a missionary to China. His characterm, perseverance, and endurance are a challenging example for all who would obey the call to bring the gospel to the nations.

 

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Gicky Soriano profile imageAUTHOR

      Gicky Soriano 

      6 years ago from California

      Storytellersrus, standing up for one's deep-seated conviction speaks volumes. Thank you for your visit and encouraging word.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 

      6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      I could not get enough of Eric Liddell when this movie came out in the early 80s! He remains an inspiration to this day. Thanks.

    • Gicky Soriano profile imageAUTHOR

      Gicky Soriano 

      7 years ago from California

      FLYSCO, Yes, two inspirational stories from two Scotsmen!

    • FLYSCO profile image

      FLYSCO 

      7 years ago from Kings Cross, London

      Thank you for this one. Scotland has a more recent Flying Scotsman hero in Graeme Obree, twice World record holder in 'the hour' bicycle time trial. (FlySco)

    • Gicky Soriano profile imageAUTHOR

      Gicky Soriano 

      9 years ago from California

      I've come to understand that life is not a hundred-yard dash, but a marathon. May you run and not grow weary. And like Eric Liddell, finish well.

    • profile image

      coffeesnob 

      9 years ago

      love it! the story, the legacy, the Scripture that makes me want to RUN. thanks

    • Gicky Soriano profile imageAUTHOR

      Gicky Soriano 

      9 years ago from California

      Liddell's life is quite the legacy. Thank you for your encouraging note.

    • Abrushing1968 profile image

      Aaron Rushing 

      9 years ago from USA- Florida

      Gicky Soriano- This was a very enjoyable reading. Your writing style is very smooth and inspiring. It is a pleasure to read. I am going to rent the Movie. It has been awhile since I've seen.

      I have heard Eric Liddell's story before. However, your rendition was better. You have moved, inspired and convicted my heart all at the same time.

      Beautiful work. Do More, I am learning from you.

      In Christ

      ABR

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)