This morning in Seminary, I showed my students some clips from Chariots of Fire. We have been studying Isaiah, and I love the scene where Eric Liddell is preaching to a congregation in Paris while taking Sunday off from the 1924 Olympics. (Do they understand what he is saying with his Scottish accent?). During that scene, interposed with images of athletes stuggling to compete in slow motion to the haunting music by Vangelis, Liddell quotes from Isaiah 40:29-31:
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
This movie was released in 1981, and it won an Oscar for best picture. I was baptized in October 1981, a decision that was accompanied by a decision to give up competitive golf. If I were serious about being a Mormon, I reasoned, Sabbath observance would be part of the package. Chariots of Fire reinforced my resolve, and I still get tears when I see Eric Liddell face off against the Prince of Wales and members of the British athletic elite who are attempting to persuade him to run on Sunday. That this scene did not really occur does not lesson its impact. Liddell was a man of principle. He died as a missionary in China just after World War II.