Eric Liddell was arguably Scotland’s greatest athlete. His remarkable story provides the backdrop for the surprise Oscar-winning 1981 film Chariots of Fire. Known as the “Flying Scotsman,” he was revered not only for his athletic prowess but also for his religious convictions. Refusing to run in a heat for his favored race, men’s 100 meters because it was scheduled on Sunday, he ran instead in the men’s 400 at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. He won the race, besting the highly favored American runners.
Soon after his Olympic triumph, he returned to China in 1925 to resume his mission work. Other than two furloughs to travel back to Scotland, Liddell remained in China until his death in 1945 in a Japanese concentration camp. One of the lines remembered from the film was actually written by Colin Welland, but it characterizes Liddell’s life so well: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
When is the last time you felt His pleasure?
Kim and I watched the emotional scene at the final hole of the 2015 Master’s. 21 year-old Jordan Spieth walked off the green, a record-setting champion. There to greet him were his father, mother, and other family and friends. His father, Shawn, found him first. Wrapping his son in a bear hug, he spoke words of congratulations and pride. It was so obvious: Jordan felt the pleasure of his father.
You don’t have to be a phenomenal golfer to feel God’s pleasure. When you find your sweet spot; when you blossom as you discover purpose and passion in life; when you are at the right place at the right time doing the right things, you can feel God’s pleasure.
If you are a parent, surely you can recall a moment when a child of yours felt your pleasure. If you can’t, you have some work to do. I have a friend who told me that his dad never expressed any emotion except anger. He could not remember a single time when his father told him that he loved him. We can regret that, grow bitter, and withdraw. Or we can do as my friend has done. He cannot tell his children too many times how much love he has for them, how proud he is to be their father, how much pleasure he derives from seeing them grow up before his eyes.
Jesus understands. On two occasions, His Father announced His pleasure. At the baptism of Jesus and on the Mount of Transfiguration, God the Father proclaimed His Son beloved. Even in the darkness and death of Calvary when it seemed that His Father had turned His back, you know that the Father was proud of the Son who did the right thing at the right time.
Today, I hope you feel God’s pleasure. Remember: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).