4. Athletic excellence can point us to God.
God designed only a few of us to be world-class athletes. But He has given each of us unique gifts and talents, and He wants us to use them to glorify Him. Eric Liddell did this in real life and in the film Chariots of Fire. This film tells his story, as well as that of other athletes on the 1924 United Kingdom Olympic team.
Before the 1924 Games, Liddell is a captivating sprinter who attracts crowds every time he competes. He uses his popularity to talk to people (including crowds after track meets) about Jesus.
At the Olympics, he is slated to run the 100 meters but refuses to compete in the event because the qualifying heats take place on a Sunday. He ends up making the finals of the 400 meters, which is an event for which he has not trained.
When he runs the race, he recalls a conversation that he had with his sister, who feared that his running was getting in the way of his true calling -- that of being a missionary in China. “Jenny, I believe God made me for a purpose,” Eric says in response. “For China. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure. To give that up would be to hold Him in contempt. You were right: it’s not just fun. To win is to honor Him.”
Liddell wins the 400 and, shortly after the Games, goes to China.
You probably will never attract crowds because of your athletic prowess. But God has given you a purpose and has blessed you with certain gifts. When you make the most of those gifts, you honor God. And God honors you in return.
For more on sports films, historical figures, Biblical characters, songs and hymns, and a broad range of other topics, check out Daily Strength for Men, a year-long devotional written by Chris Bolinger and published by BroadStreet Publishing. Bolinger enjoys sports films in part because he is a fan of Cleveland sports teams, and they don’t win very often. (And now that LeBron is in L.A., it’s going to be a long winter.)
Photo Credit: ©IMDb