Saturday, 4 February 2012

Perseverance and the hope of Christ

This year I want to start thinking of Christian things in a deeper way.  However, what I want to focus on is things like my hope in Christ, and how the Holy Spirit can overcome my many fears, and give strength and courage even when life is pants. 

On Sunday, I have to do the Children's talk at Church.  I struggle each time to think of what to say that might be original, snappy and that will have the children eating out of my hand.  When nothing like that comes to mind, I usually give up and search my memory bank for something I said at my last church.  I have a few historical characters who are my heroes; and one of them is Eric Liddell.  I used to like his story even before I started running.  

Eric was born in China in 1902 and died there from a brain tumour in 1945.  From my reading of him, everything he did, he worked hard at it.  He was a good athlete and a strong Christian and worked hard at both whilst at University in Edinburgh.  He played Rugby for the Scottish National Team as well as competing in many athletic events.  

In 1924 the Paris Olympics took place.  Eric is well known for refusing to compete in the 100 metres race because it was held on a Sunday.  He instead, competed the 400 metres and broke World and Olympic records.  

From 1925-1943 he was a Missionary in China.  He married and had 3 daughters but also continued to run whilst teaching Science to rich Chinese students.  China was invaded by Japanese forces in 1937 but Eric stayed and helped many.  The British Government wanted him to leave China as the situation worsened.  He stayed while his family left for Canada.  (He would never see them again.)  

Eric, along with other Westerners was sent to Weihsein Interment Camp in 1943.  He helped many people while there with food, and other needs.  He was put in charge of organising things, taught children and helped out with the teenagers by refereeing football matches for them.  He was never observed being grumpy or forlorn.  He gave up a chance for release by allowing his place to go to a pregnant lady.  He suffered greatly, he missed his family and missed the birth of his 3rd daughter.  He did all of this out of His love for Jesus and because this is how he serve Him.  He died 21st February 1945 (five months before the liberation of Japan) from a brain tumour. 

This man did everything well and worked hard.  He ran the race that God had set before Him.  It was a hard race; one if I had been on it, would have complained, moaned and most likely fallen at the first hurdle.  Some verses in Romans chapter 5: 1-5 say 'Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.'  

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