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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Start (01/16/06)

TITLE: Finishing the Race Well
By Julianne Jones


Paris, July 11, 1924

The crowd stirs restlessly as a young man steps up to the starting line and prepares to race. Taking his time, he digs two starting holes in the cinder track before straightening and viewing the lane before him. At twenty-two years of age, his decision not to participate in heats on Sunday had been well publicised, stunning and angering his fans. Now as he stands waiting for the signal to race, silence descends on the crowd. Few expect him to do well. The shorter sprints are his strength, not this 400-metre race and not in this heat that has left athletes struggling to maintain their pace.

“They’re off!”

In just 47.6 seconds the race is over and a new Olympic and world record has been set. The ‘Flying Scotsman’, as he has come to be known, casually shakes hands with his competitors then leaves the stadium. Eric Liddell has just won gold for his beloved Scotland.

Hours spent in training, the numerous sacrifices made, are now being rewarded. Many consider that he has just attained the greatest goal that any athlete could strive for. The race over, it is now time to sit back and enjoy the accolades.

But not for Eric. In less than a year he would board a ship for China. For twenty years he would minister to the Chinese people whom he loved, intent on bringing God’s Love to a darkened and forgotten world.

Over the years, numerous stories and legends would arise about Eric Liddell. His refusal to compromise his beliefs and his choice to honour and obey God rather than man would inspire the movie Chariots of Fire.

Yet, the 400-metre race was not the sole reason for Eric’s existence. Although some might argue that it was the most important race of his sporting career, it was not the all-important race of his life. That race had started much earlier. Eric Liddell dedicated his life to serving God. He lived a life of faith, spending many of those years as a missionary in China. In 1945 interned by Japanese forces in a camp for European and American non-combatants, he died – the race complete.

After one race, a reporter for the Scotsman had noted, “As usual, Liddell did not start too well, but made a wonderfully fast finish.” Although his style was dissected and often regarded as appalling, it got results. What happened at the finish line was what interested the fans.

As Christians, we all have a race to run. A race “marked out for us” that we are to “run with perseverance” (Hebrews 12: 1, NIV). Just as athletes must train and be disciplined, so must we. How we run and complete the race is important. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil, 3:13b-14, NIV).

In his letter to Timothy, Paul wrote: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness … (2 Tim 4:7-8a, NIV). Paul ran the race and finished well. Eric Liddell also ran his earthly race and finished well. Our goal should be to do the same.


Details and newspaper quotes from the book God’s Joyful Runner by Russell Ramsey, Bridge Publishing Inc, New Jersey, 1987.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 1119 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karri Compton01/24/06
Nice story - thanks for sharing.
Jan Ackerson 01/25/06
This was really good! I had only a vague knowledge of this story, and I'm so glad to know it all, now.
Cassie Memmer01/27/06
This would make a great devotional. I enjoyed it.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/27/06
One never leaves the FW site without having gained some knowledge! Thank you for sharing this great story. Well done!
Shari Armstrong 01/27/06
A great story (and just happened to hear about this man last Sunday night at church. He was the answer to one of the triva questions pastor did for fun before his lesson) Well done -and we can't finish the race, if we never start :)
Pat Guy 01/28/06
One of my favorite movies! And what a great devotional! Thought provoking and the way you've written this has made it easy to apply and understand a concept we don't usually think of. Good, good job!
terri tiffany01/28/06
I loved the way you wrote this! You made it easy to relate to by presenting the wonderful story at the start. Great job!
Val Clark01/30/06
Well done, Jules. Thanks your gentle devotional comments and for the reminder about this inspiring man of God.
Suzanne R01/31/06
This was a really good thought-provoking piece. I'd heard that his style was pretty unorthodox but didn't seem to matter ... never really thought about applying it to life, but yes, it is very applicable.

My boss here is the nephew of three of the students and grandson of one parent interned in the same camp (my boss' father had already left school and the country at the time) and they all have very positive things to say about all that he did to keep up morale and faith in the internment camp too. A good finish indeed.
B Brenton02/11/06
This is a great article.
It's not really a story but just a short article.
You should submit it somewhere Jules, as some type of devotional, thinking... article thing (man, I'm great with words huh?)
I don't think it gets the appreciation it deserves in the challenge, cause it's not the right market.
There is a right market for this type of writing. I just have no clue on the name of it!
You get me? :P