‘I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.’
For months Eric Liddell trained with his heart set on winning the 100-metre race in the 1924 Olympics. Most sportswriters predicted he would win. At the games, however, Liddell learned that the 100-metre race was scheduled to be run on a Sunday. This posed a major problem for him, because he didn’t believe he could honour God by running on the Lord’s Day. He bowed out of the race, and his fans were stunned. Some who had praised him in the past, now called him a fool. He came under intense pressure to change his mind, but he stood firm. Then a runner dropped out of the 400-metre race, which was scheduled on a weekday, and Liddell was offered the opportunity to fill the slot. This was not really ‘his race’. The distance was four times as long as the one he’d diligently trained for. Even so, he crossed the finish line as victor and set a new record of 47.6 seconds in the process. He earned an Olympic gold medal and made an uncompromising stand for his faith, and his story was told in the Academy Award-winning movie Chariots of Fire. But Eric Liddell has an even greater claim to fame. He went on to become a missionary in China, where he died in a prisoner of war camp in 1945. He’s like Jephthah, who said, ‘I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it’ (NKJV). The lesson that comes through loud and clear from this man’s life is – stand by your convictions, and God will honour you.