From the Presbyterian Outlook and author Teri M. Ott
There is a scene from the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire” when Eric Liddell, a runner reading Isaiah 40:31 from the pulpit before running and winning the 400 meters in the 1924 Olympic Games. These are the motivational words which we read on Epiphany 5:
“Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;
But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
“In Chapter 40 Isaiah announces the end of Israel’s exile. As the people celebrate this good news, Isaiah reminds them in verses 21-31 that God, the Creator of the universe, is the source of their strength, their only lasting comfort, their true home. “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” (v. 21, 28). Isaiah implores the people to remember all that they have in the Great Comforter who knows each of us by name, the Good Shepherd from whom no soul goes missing (v. 26). God has been there for us from the beginning. God will be there for us to the end.
Liddell dominated the 100 meter sprint and was scheduled to run that race in the 1924 Olympics. He was the leading runner who dominated the competition. However, the race was scheduled on Sunday and the religious Liddell declined to compete. The coach instead entered him in the 400 meter on another day. It was a distance that he had not physically trained for required a different type of running which involved both pain and endurance.
Starting in the outside lane, Liddell sprinted out of the blocks and set such a pace that two racers stumbled trying to keep up. Amazingly Liddell won the race, turing in a record time of 47.6 seconds! Instead of dominating the race after the Olympics or cashing in his victory fnancially, Liddell became a missionary to China.
There he married and had a child. World War II intervened and he was eventually captured by Japanese. In the camp he acted as a minister and evangelist as well as running sports activities for the youth. Unfortunately he died of a brain tumor 5 months before the allies liberated the camp.