Superheroes of the Faith – Eric Liddell (Download Powerpoint)
Can you tell me what these two pictures are of? [Olympic gold medal; Piece of paper with 1 Samuel 2:30 written on it]. Can you tell me what they have got in common?
Let me tell you. It was the men’s 400m final at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. Representing Great Britain was Eric Liddell, the son of missionaries to China. He had already won bronze in the 200m but had only just made into the final of the 400m.
As the race was about to begin, an American masseur handed Eric a piece of paper with the words of 1 Samuel 2:30 written on it. ‘Those who honour Me, I will honour’. Now why did he do that?
The reason is because a few months earlier Eric Liddell had chosen not to compete in his best event the 100m because it was going to take place on a Sunday. Eric loved Jesus and believed that Sunday was God’s special day and thought that to run on Sunday would be to disobey God.
Many people couldn’t understand why Eric would do this. The newspaper headlines were cruel. They thought he had let the country down.
But Eric had put God first. Eric had honoured God with his decision.
Back to the race. Eric kept the piece the paper that was given to him in his hand. The gun went off, and Eric begun running with his unusual running style – his head back and mouth wide open.
That day God honoured Eric Liddell and at the finish line Eric came in first, 5m ahead of everyone else. He had won an Olympic gold medal.
After the race Eric said: “The secret of my success over the 400m is that I run the first 200m as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200m, with God’s help I run faster.”
Eric was a national hero. He could have gone onto more Olympics and had a successful athletics career, but he chose to put God first again. He followed in his parents footsteps and became a missionary to China and served there until he died.
In China Eric looked after the poor, taught the Bible, started up Sunday Schools and told people the good news of salvation through Jesus. However during this time, China and Japan started fighting each other. By now Eric had a wife and children who evacuated to Canada. Eric stayed behind, never to see them again. He was captured and became a prisoner of war.
While Eric was a prisoner, Winston Churchill organised a prisoner exchange and Eric was chosen to be released, but he gave his place to a woman who was pregnant. Desperately thin, dressed in rags and suffering from a brain tumour, Eric Liddell died as a prisoner of war.
Eric Liddell put God first and gave up the chance of an Olympic medal in the 100m because he thought he would disobey God by running on a Sunday.
He also put God first by giving up a career in athletics to go to China to tell people the good news about Jesus.
Eric Liddell teaches us to put God first in everything.
More talks about Superheroes of the Faith can be found HERE.