I was reminded this week of a scene from the movie "Chariots of Fire." Released in 1981, the film is based on the true story of British athletes preparing for and competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics. The life of Eric Liddell, one of the runners, is chronicled prior to his departure for the mission field of China. At one point in the film Eric is walking with his sister following a service at their mission outreach. She expresses strong concern to his seeming lack of full time commitment to the work of his parents' ministry and mission while they are home on furlough. He responds to her,
"Jenny, God made me for a purpose, for China. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel the pleasure of the Lord."
If you want to read about a real hero of the faith, read about Eric Liddell. He spent his life serving in China until his death in a Japanese internment camp during WWII. In Christian circles we often hear of the heroics of Jim Elliot and Hudson Taylor, but Liddell is right up there with these giants.
What I love about this scene from "Chariots of Fire" is that it demonstrates that Liddell knew how to worship. And he was most comfortable worshiping with his head tilted back and mouth open while running very, very fast.
My Dad worships best at a couple thousand feet off the ground. He described the first time he felt overcome with God's presence as a young pilot in the Marines:
"In eight helos at daybreak we thundered across deep spiked green mountains and out over the blue Pacific waters, transporting Marine troops to Molokai. We were caught in the sun’s exploding grandeur. The early preflight and multi-ship takeoff had been hectic. Catching my breath, I looked out over the vast blue ocean and into the reflected blazing sunrise. I was just realizing that this was probably the most spectacular work of nature and art I had ever seen. It caught me and pulled me up and up and in. In my spirit, a whole new world opened up. Overwhelmed, tears filled my eyes."
I love that. I love seeing my dad worship his Creator from the beauty of creation.
I love watching my nineteen-month-old daughter express delight when a certain song is played, her little body dancing involuntarily with the rhythm of the music.
I love watching my husband laugh so hard he doubles over. Doesn't happen often enough, but there's nothing quite like hearing him belly laugh, as that expression of pure joy and delight echoes the pure and delightful pleasures of the Lord.
How do I feel the pleasure of the Lord? In other words, how do I worship? What does it look like in my modern day life? My attempts at personal worship have been meager at best.
I realize focused worship is important, but I'm still trying to figure out what that looks like. I think of Christ and how he got away to quiet places to be silent and alone. That speaks to me. I think of his constant communication with the Father, and that at any given moment he was perfectly in tune with the Lord. He offered laughter and patience for children, compassion for the sinful and hurting, and anger for the self-righteousness. His responses were simply an overflow from worship. And while I can't quite picture him running a 400, I can imagine his head back, mouth open, laughing.
Father God, we do adore You and love You. Please give us license and creativity to worship in the unique ways You designed for us. We long to feel the pleasure of the Lord.