Was it the music? Well the music is nice, and I did learn to play a simple version of the Chariots of Fire theme on the piano 30 years ago. However, I don’t think that was the main inspiration.
Was it the scene in which the runners tried to make it around the courtyard while the clock was striking 12? Interesting, but probably not.
Was it the Olympic performance? Well, the thing that always stuck out most in my mind about the Olympic performance was not so much how he did, but the fact that he stood up for his principles and would not compete on a Sunday. I know the commandment to keep the Lord’s Day holy and have always tried to live it although there are varying interpretations. Where I live, even the Catholic church sports leagues play on Sundays, so, clearly, members of my church would not be held to the same standards to which Liddell held himself.
What stands out in my mind most as a memory? It was the scene in which Liddell stumbled at the opening of a quarter mile race prior to the Olympics, dropped behind by 20 yards, but eventually won the race. Looking at the book and some other online sources, apparently there were some liberties taken with the facts of the situation in the movie, but the gist of the movie scene captured what happened in real life.
Why, of all things, is that what stands out in my mind? Because it best captures the attitude I try to espouse for myself and set as an example for my children. Life is about not giving up. I may not always win, but I try never to throw in the towel, unless I am at a point at which continuing would be genuinely destructive. Of course, not everyone will fall down, get back up, and win. And some people who never fall down, also never win. But the point for me is to keep giving my best effort no matter what. And, of all the scenes in the movie Chariots of Fire, the one in which Liddell was able to overcome a rough start to a race was the one that sticks out in my mind.
This applies to more than just my running. In my running, for any given workout, I may not be at the front. On any give race day, I will never be at the very front and there may be other runners with whom I am training at present or have trained in the past who run faster. Nevertheless, as long as I set goals for myself and simply try to do my best that is what matters to me. Same thing in professional life—not everything works but I keep on trying. Same thing in home life—not everything works with parenting or being a spouse, but I keep on trying. Same thing in spiritual life—not everything works but I keep struggling to understand.
One of the parts of Eric Liddell’s life that I would hope to continue to embody with my actions and words is the willingness to always push ahead despite any trials and tribulations I may encounter. I would imagine, that as I read the book, I will find other things that I will hope to emulate, and maybe, just maybe, live up to the comparison that a friend once made that I hardly thought I deserved.