I’m not much of a sports fan, but I do know that humility is not one of the most common character traits among today’s star athletes. The more typical proud swagger and I’m-so-awesome attitude has become so synonymous to me with sports that reading the story of Eric Liddell sort of seemed unreal. Given the current sports culture (in the US, at least), it’s rather difficult to believe that a humble, soft-spoken, fame-resistant man was at one time Scotland’s most beloved and famous athlete. But he was!
If you’ve seen Chariots of Fire, as I’m sure many of you have, you’re already familiar with Eric Liddell – but the story of his life after winning Olympic gold is just as important to tell as the story of the most famous years of his life. Eric Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold recounts his remarkable athletic career, yes, but it does so in a way that I think Eric would be pleased with. Less than half of the book is spent on his rise to fame as a runner; the first few chapters tell the story of his childhood and at page 75 the focus switches to his life as a missionary in China. Eric never thought that his career as a runner would be the only focus of his life, and it’s not the only focus of this biography, either. I’m not going to spoil the story for you, but suffice it to say that the second half of the book contains just as much action as the first half!
I said this when I reviewed the Benges’ book on Corrie Ten Boom, but I’ll say it again: children should read biographies. Our kids need to grow up hearing the stories of people like Eric Liddell, people whose faith in Christ grounds them and guides them more than the desire for money or fame or world-class talent or any other thing that doesn’t ultimately satisfy. Biographies allow our sons and daughter to make friends and rub shoulders with people who can be their lifelong heroes. Whether your children are sports minded or not, consider introducing them to the ordinary/extraordinary man of Eric Liddell.
(For those with sensitive children, please note that this book includes descriptions of war, prison camps, and death.)