We watched a classic movie Saturday night, Chariots of Fire. One of the characters in the movie is a Scottish missionary who is an extremely fast runner. He is picked to be on the British Olympic Track and Field Team for the 1924 Olympics in France. Prior to receiving this honor he has a talk with a female friend of his from the mission field. She is concerned that he is wasting his time running and not focusing on the evangelism ministry that God has called him to. He takes her for a walk after showing up late to a church service one afternoon due to running. On the walk overlooking the city he tells her that he has accepted a missionary position for China but that he is going to devote his full-time until leaving for that trip to training. She is frustrated by this and he responds with some food for thought:
“I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
Later on, the movie shows him running and winning the 400 meter race after he refused to run in the 100 meter heats on Sunday due to religious convictions. He was switched to the 400 meters to avoid a conflict in scheduling. One of the American runners comes up to the Scotsman right before the race begins and hands him a slip of paper that says, “In the good book it says that ‘I will honor him who honors me.'” Liddel, the Scotsman, holds the paper in his hand throughout the race. And just as the finish line is coming up the director played back Liddel’s words about his purpose. You see Liddel’s head tilt back as it always does towards the end of a race and he has this exhilarating peaceful joy on his face…”and when I run I feel his pleasure.” It is inspiring.
It also shows a clip of another runner who earlier that day had won the 100 meter dash. He had devoted his life to winning a gold medal and now that he had it he was kind of lost. He watched Liddel run and win the 400 meters with a pain in his eyes that said, “I want what he has! How do I get it? How did I miss it?”
Who are you? Who am I? Personally, I don’t know of anything that I do that brings God pleasure. I am currently squandering all gifts that God has given me in pursuit of making ends meet, trying to do other things that I think God would have me do, and trying to be a good husband and father. But none of those things are the areas I am gifted with. Music (singing, instrumentation), artistry (various forms), theater, carpentry, and outdoor adventure (think camping expeditions, through-hiking, various outdoor races, etc…) are areas that I am passionate about and love to do but rarely do I find time for them. “But you should make time for them!” Come live in my shoes and find the time for me. Some of it I can fit in but most of what I love to do requires time, consistent time at that. The point is not just doing the activity though but doing it for a purpose, to bring honor to God. When you do something well and your attitude encourages others, even those you are competing against, then you bring honor to God. When you bring honor to God then you will feel His pleasure.
How about you guys? What abilities or gifts has God given you and are you exercising those gifts? Are you throwing your head back with elation as you feel God’s pleasure washing over you when you are using those abilities to do His will? I am not. Hopefully some of you are.
Boris the Illusionist