To feel His pleasure
This weekend Eliud Kipchoge, a Kenyan marathon runner, achieved the unthinkable. He ran a sub-two-hour half-marathon.
It was more than just Eliud, though. The preparation for this event was phenomenal. Modern sports science played a role in determining all the factors a runner would need to consider. More than forty top runners offered their services as pace-setters, running in V-formation, protecting Eliud from the wind. A pace vehicle was in place, projecting a laser beam on the road in front of the runners ensuring Eliud finished under that time.
Eliud ran with Nike's latest footwear, not yet available on the market, that improves the athlete's running speed by up to 4%. The whole endeavour took more than six months of planning and preparation. The team trained in high altitude but ran in low altitude Vienna. No stone was left unturned in bringing that time down.
All of this gifted the world a moment to see a runner in his prime run with absolute ease and efficiency of motion, a time no other run till this seemed capable of achieving. Kipchoge finished the race with a smile on his face, his passion evident for all to see. He looked for all the world like a man with more kilometres in the tank.
The run reminded me of a famous scene from Chariots of Fire. In the movie Eric Liddell, deeply in love with God, experiences conflict between his faith and his running. One of the narrative threads of the film tracks that tension. Speaking to this, he remarks, in a moment of honesty, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run, I feel His pleasure." And when I run, I feel His pleasure. You sense that pleasure on the face of Eliud as he crosses that line.
"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run, I feel His pleasure."
To watch Eliud run is to be reminded of the words of Psalm 139: 14, that "we are fearfully and wonderfully made" How we need to hear that! We live in a time when our limitations, our smallness, and our fears seem so present and overwhelming. We're so broken in so many ways. As individuals and collectively, we seem intent on disappointing ourselves, on being smaller than we were created to be.
The Eliud Kipchoge feat also took me back to a quote from As A Man Thinketh, a 19th-century book written by James Allen:
"The soul attracts that which secretly harbours; that which it loves, and also that which it fears; [the soul] reaches the height of its cherished aspirations; it falls to the level of its unchastened desires. And circumstances are the means by which the soul receives it's own."
This past weekend Eliud reminded us what it means to reach the height of a cherished aspiration.
Don't forget to check out the Seven Questions for this week, to be found under the Worship dropdown menu. We've also uploaded the District Superintendent's address to Cork at our Harvest service this past week, and that can be found under Sermons.