One of my all-time favorite movies is Chariots of Fire–the true story about Scotsman Eric Liddell. Born in China to missionary parents, Liddell became famous as a runner and rugby player across Great Britain in the 1920’s. Chariots of Fire focuses on Liddell’s journey to the 1924 Olympic games in Paris. What made Liddell famous around the world, was when he refused to run the 100 meter race he had trained for because of a conflict with his religious convictions–the heats were scheduled to be run on a Sunday. Eric ended up winning an Olympic gold medal when he ran the 400 meter race and a bronze medal for the 200 meter race instead. One of the lines in the film that stands out in my mind, is Eric’s response to his sister Jenny when she expressed concern that he was investing too much of his time running. Eric, looking tenderly into his sister’s face, reassured her as he said, “Jenny, Jenny . . . I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”
Being confident in knowing that God has a plan and purpose for our lives is what compels us as Christians to move forward in challenging times. I believe that, “to feel God’s pleasure . . .” is more illusive but ties in with our desire to honor God.
We feel God’s pleasure when we use the gifts and abilities He has given us to love our neighbor and to glorify Him.
Speaking from experience, God has gifted me with the ability to help people dig into the Scriptures for the wisdom and perspective they lack. In the Counseling Room, I feel God’s pleasure when working with a Client who is in a whole lot of trouble and thinks God has abandoned them. Many times when I listen to their stories my heart breaks for them. Over time, I have learned that while empathy is nice, what they need is the strength and perspective the Scriptures offer. There is nothing more powerful than God speaking truth and hope into the lives of hurting people. I especially feel His pleasure when He leads us to two, three and sometimes four passages of Scripture–glorious fare for the hungry soul!
There are other instances when I have recently felt God’s pleasure. One that especially stands out to me has been in witnessing the next generation take on responsibilities serving in my Church. This summer several young men who have grown up in our church have blessed the musical aspects of worship with their humble leadership. To witness the Spirit of God working in their lives has given me hope for the future.We feel God’s pleasure when we are broken yet choose to give Him thanks. His pleasure becomes ours when we are awed by all He has made . . . when we learn to walk by faith and not by sight.
Ephesians 1:9-10 provides a much broader picture of the working out of God’s pleasure across His universe:With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
After the Olympics Eric Liddell returned to China as a missionary. Throughout his life I trust that he felt God’s pleasure many times as he married, had children and served the Chinese people with the Good News of Christ. His wife and children left China when the Japanese were taking over in WWII. Eric chose to remain and was ultimately interred by the Japanese in a detainee camp with 1,800 men, women and children in 1943. There he continued to honor Christ by serving others until he died of a brain tumor in 1945 at age 43.
Liddell was a man after God’s heart, who lived out his life like he ran his races: with patient dedication he honored Christ at every turn. When he fell, Eric got up and ran harder to follow the path God laid out for him until he finished his race.
To trust God more than our instincts or the opinions of others, moves us in the direction of feeling God’s pleasure as we walk/run in obedience to His Spirit and His Word.
So what are you waiting for?
All to His Glory!