Monday, May 20, 2013

And When I Run I Feel His Pleasure

Eric Liddell: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

The movie Chariots of Fire is based on the true story of two British athletes as they prepare for and participate in the 1924 Olympics; Harold Abrahams, an intensely competitive Jewish athlete dealing with the unspoken anti-Semitism of the British upper class and Eric Liddell an intensely devout Christian on his way to martyrdom as a missionary in China. In the movie Liddell’s sister Jennie disapproves of the time he wastes in athletic competition. However, Liddell views running as way to glorify God. The quote comes from the scene where Liddell tells his sister that he is going to China as a missionary, but first he is going to compete in the Paris Olympics.

As I study and teach the basics of personal finance and investments, a very obvious question resurfaces again and again in one form or another, “Why are we doing this? What does this have to do with living a good life?” I have come to believe there is a balance that each individual must find for themselves. Life comes with a certain amount of duty and obligation. If you toss out responsibility, living the life you love without considering the needs of others, you are nothing more than selfish and immature. The Bible states that someone who does not take care of his own house is worse than a heathen. If you totally deny who you are, carrying your load as well as the burdens of others, you will exhaust yourself. The fruits of such a life are unhappiness, bitterness, bad health, and ultimately an untimely death.

We earn and spend our money to better enjoy our life and care for those around us. If your money is not accomplishing these goals, you can do better. I have seen studies that indicate there is a close correlation between earnings and happiness up to about $75,000 a year (at least in this country). Beyond that number the correlation between money and happiness breaks down. I guess this indicates that for an American family, a combined income of $150,000 is enough. Even in an expensive metropolitan area like Washington, DC. $150,000 is enough to buy a nice house in a comfortable suburb, an entry level luxury car for the daily commute, and more flat screen TVs than the total number of family members living in the house.

How much is enough?

What makes you happy? Really happy? A lot of real happiness seems to arise in our service to others. Eric Liddell believed God made him for a purpose, the mission field. He also believed God made him fast for a purpose. When he ran he felt God’s pleasure and approval. So what are the duties, obligations, and responsibilities God has placed in your life? Are you a loyal dependable friend? Are you a good employee? Are you caring for your family?

Then there is that other set of questions. Have you found the center of your heart? Have you found those talents and abilities that uniquely make you who you really are?

You will know when you find them. You will know when you have lost yourself in God’s pleasure. As you run your own unique race, you will know. You will really, really know why He has made you, why life is so wonderful because you’re in this world.

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