You have eyes, do you not see; you have ears do you not hear? There was a man in the old book of the good book and he was called a prophet. His work ran a little more than 40 years and in all that time he had little to no impact on the land or the people whom he was called to serve. In the end, he was kidnapped and spent his remaining years cut off from his home. Yet one single prose that he has written, has inspired so many since his days of darkness and despair; “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for you to prosper and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope”. Pretty significant words given the man accomplished little to nothing in earthly terms his entire life. However, his effort was undeniable.
Many years back a rather unique film was made, inspired by the life of a young athlete who was born in China to a missionary family. He would spend the most of his early years in Scotland, finally graduating from college with a name for himself as a rugby player, track athlete; and, as a preacher. What was so unique in the 1981 film was the simple fact that this man lived his faith in every aspect of his life, and this would force him to make some hard choices. The result of his convictions and his choice to follow his true heart was incredibly inspiring. A unique scene early in the movie follows a 400 meter race; in which, Eric Liddell is pushed off the track on the first turn, falls to the ground, gets up and wins the race. Now, it’s not legal in the rules for such a case nor is it very likely, but the story is true. It was the effort that mattered. “Chariots of Fire” is about so much more than this seemingly tall but true episode; it is about “choices”, but all the best stories are about such matters. It was just that this story came out at a time when these choices seemed irrelevant in so many places.
Not too long ago, a young man told me that he had faced more challenges than any 21 year old I’d ever met. I asked him to tell me his story. When he was finished I could only remember the events, which he outlined in detail, that had happened to him; there was nothing that explained any hard choices or decisions, just a series of circumstances that prevented him from getting, what he thought, that he rightly deserved.
These words by John Maxwell may sound harsh; you have to ask them to yourself and then you have to answer for yourself. “God gives every man a good enough start to finish well”. Paul wrote, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure”. Regardless of the answer you give or credence you observe with these statements, there are choices you have to make. No good thing ever comes without making hard choices and just because someone has made hard choices about you, it doesn’t free you from making hard ones in return. Entitlements, these are things that belong to those unwilling to decide their role in the story; although every man has a story worth listening to, the best ones are always about choices. A. Lincoln said: “And having thus chosen our course, without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear, and with manly hearts.”
When Eric Liddell rolled to the ground on the first bend in the track, an old gray- haired coach was standing nearby with a stopwatch; saying, “Get up Lad, get up”. I can only assume, he had once read the book by the prophet, Jeremiah. Ain’t it true.