“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” — Hebrews 12:1-3
Everyone expected Eric Liddell to compete in the 100-meter race at the 1924 Paris Olympics. However, the race took place on a Sunday, a day on which Liddle refused to run because of his faith. Because of his refusal to run, many in his home country of Scotland hated him and called him a traitor.
However, Liddell held to his convictions and instead competed in the 400m, which took place on another day. Despite the fact that he was considered an underdog, he not only beat his opposition but also set a world-record time of 47.6 seconds. People did not understand why Liddell stood on his Christian principles, but God rewarded Liddell’s willingness to hold true to his convictions.
As the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 12:1, the Christian journey is a race. The question is whether we are going to follow God’s council and be victorious, or if we will instead choose to live for ourselves and squander the opportunity for the prize. Liddell refused to compromise on his faith.
After competing in the Olympics, Liddell chose to dedicate his life to missions work in China. In 1943, the Japanese captured him and sent him to an internment camp. He died there two years later. Many may consider it a waste that he died at the young age of 43, but Liddell knew and had confidence that his ultimate prize was not a gold medal. Rather, his prize was even better: eternal life with God in Heaven.
Throughout Liddell’s life, he demonstrated that a successful life is not measured by earthly awards but by how you live in light of eternity. As we live out our faith, let us remember to run the course God has laid out for us, no matter the distance. Be faithful in spite of the obstacles.
It’s a race worth finishing, no matter how difficult it seems or how discouraged you get from time to time. As Paul instructed the Corinthians, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
— Jim Tennant
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