You’d have to go a long way to find a better movie, or better subject for a movie, than Chariots of Fire and Eric Liddell. Though he was born in China (his parents were missionaries there), Liddell was Scottish. He had a heart for God that shined through absolutely everything he did. The movie focuses primarily upon Liddell’s running exploits as he was a world class sprinter. He qualified for the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris but the preliminary heats for his best event (the 100 meter sprint), were held on Sunday. This went against Liddell’s convictions so he made the decision not to race in the 100. Instead, he decided to race in the 400, where he was given little chance of medaling.
Prior to the 400 final, an acquaintance of Liddell’s came down on the track and handed him a note. It was a quote of 1 Samuel 2:30. It said, “Those who honor me I will honor.” Liddell held on to the scrap of paper throughout the race and not only won, but set a world record.
There’s much more to the movie but the part I’m interested in is where Liddell told his sister, Jenny, “I believe God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” When I think about Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:10-12, I think about what Liddell said. For Paul, life in Christ wasn’t a philosophy, a religion that supplemented his life, or something he found tedious or burdensome — it was a relationship. He didn’t say he wished to know about the Christ (information), he said he wanted to know Him (relation).
Just a little before that, Paul told the Philippians to:
. . . continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (2:12-13)
Believers rejoice in the reality that God is working in their lives for His purposes—but there’s more truth for us than just that. God also works for His pleasure (see the ASV, NASV, and other translations). I think that’s what Liddell meant when he spoke of feeling God’s pleasure. It’s biblical speech. To allow God’s work in our lives is to allow His pleasure. Whether it’s in experiencing the power of Jesus’ resurrection or entering into His sufferings—our Father is as pleased when we embrace His will as we are when our children embrace ours. And wouldn’t the knowledge that their child feels their approval and pleasure when they live accordingly be just what every parent desires? Isn’t that why we love to tell our children how proud we are of them? Of course it is! If others want to make God out to be an unapproachable deity who is never pleased let them. We know better.
Don’t be afraid to feel your Father’s pleasure.