Upon arriving in Paris, Liddell discovered that his 100 meter event had been scheduled to run on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Eric informed the team that he would not run on the Sabbath.
The media back in Britain were merciless. Liddell was committing treason against his own country. They wrote that he should defer his own interests to that of national honor.
Liddell, however, stuck to his convictions, but agreed to an arrangement that would allow him to run a different event on a different day. He agreed to run the 400 meter dash even though he had never trained for the 400.
On the Olympic field, moments before Eric Liddell ran, an American runner passed a note to him written on a slip of paper. On it was scribbled a paraphrase of a verse out of 1 Samuel 2. The message was this: “The Old Book says, he who honors me, I will honor.”
Clutching the piece of paper, Liddell started in the outside lane, sprinted out of the blocks and set such a blistering pace that two racers stumbled trying to keep up. He won the race in a record time of 47.6 seconds and set the world record.
A year after the Paris Olympic Games, Liddell returned to China (he had been born to missionary parents there) to do missionary work with his father. Young Liddell died in China in 1945 of a brain tumor while living in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.
My wife, Cynthia, had a conversation with woman who was in that concentration camp with Eric Liddell. She was in the camp with him for three years before Liddell died of that brain tumor.
The woman has written several books. Her name is now Kari Malcolm, and one of her books is entitled, “We Signed Away Our Lives.”
Well, with Liddell, his real claim to worldly fame came not with his remarkable Olympic victory, but with of his unswerving passion to observe the Lord’s day.
Is it possible that we could develop the same passion?
That would be something to celebrate!