Since we live in this world, it is pretty easy to think that what we see and hear and encounter physically is all there is to life. But living for here and now is really not in our own best interest. So much of what may motivate us will pass away. Although it may stretch us sacrificially, it really is worth it to make decisions with an eternal perspective.
We are actually reading a book about Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire main character, the guy who wouldn’t run on Sundays). He was a super fast runner who set all sorts of records. He made it to the Olympics for the 100 and 200 meter races, but both had either the main race or qualifying heats set for Sundays. He dropped out and ran in the 400 meter race—not at all anything he’d trained for. He won and set another record. It was a huge deal, because before those Olympics, the Scottish/British hadn’t ever gotten a medal in running before.
The people had been SO angry when he dropped out of his own races. They called him a traitor in several newspapers. Then when he won, he was a national hero. People carried him on a makeshift chair sedan through the streets. There were lunches, and banquets and encore races for a year. Someone could get drunk on that sort of admiration.
But he knew even before going to the Olympics that he was going to China as a missionary. He had purpose and an eye on eternity. Without that, his life of public opinion would have left him tossed about and crazy. But with God as his focus, giving up possible Olympic gold medals was something he was able to do with conviction.
I think he is a cool example of one who reaches worldly success without ever being ruled or confused by it. He had a good head on his shoulders and enjoyed the love people shared, but never forgot how quickly public opinion can change. Popularity was never his bread and butter. He feasted on the Bread of Life instead.