Saturday, February 09, 2008

Faith and Fire

“When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha. “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.
II Kings 6:15-17 (New Living Translation)

One of my favorite films is “Chariots of Fire.” It’s the story Eric Liddell and his approach to athletics and faith. It’s 1924, and the setting is the Olympic Games. Liddell is scheduled to run the 100 meters, in which he is favored. On the day before the race he finds out that his heat is to be run on Sunday - the Sabbath. Liddell tells the British team managers that he cannot run the heat. To do so, he asserts, would violate his Christian faith. Not even the Prince of Wales can persuade him to change his mind. He’s told that he has a duty to his king and country. He responds, “God makes kings…God makes nations.” Seeing that he is firm in his convictions, he is offered an opportunity to run the 400 meters, a race he has never run, on a different day. On the day of the race the manager of the American team tells one of Liddell’s competitors not to worry, that Riger mortis will set in for Liddell at three hundred yards. “He’ll die,” the American coach declares. Just before the race begins, Jackson Schultz, one of America’s greatest sprinters, slips a note into Liddell’s hand. It reads, “The old Book says, “He that honors me, him will I honor.”

Someone who had run and trained understood what dedication of running the race was all about! Liddell won that race. He went from the glory of the Olympics to spend his later years as a Christian missionary in China. He died there, serving the God he had done his utmost to honor in his life.

There are so many times in life that men of faith and conviction are misunderstood, so many times they are given up for dead, so many times that the ideals they live by are archaic.

The message of “Chariots of Fire” is clear. Principle matters. Faith matters. And, our course and lot in life does not have to be determined by experts or pollsters.

Yesterday I attended a Mike Huckabee rally in Olathe, Kansas, just south of downtown Kansas City. While Mike was staying on message, as he has since he began his campaign, the experts were writing and re-writing his political obituary.

My wife and I went to our local Republican caucus here in Emporia, Kansas this morning. Emporia is one of those small Kansas towns (about 25,000) that is at the epicenter of all that’s converging politically in America these days. About a hundred miles south of us, in Wichita, George Tiller continues to ply his grisly trade – providing late term abortions, violating the strong Kansas belief that life is something that has intrinsic value and moral worth. Here in Emporia, Tyson Foods has announced that almost 2000 of its 2400 workers are being laid off. That’s about twenty percent of this city’s workforce. Payday loan shops and ramshackle rentals, overseen by slumlord who prey on the poor, proliferate.

These are things that matter to Kansans. These are things that matter to Mike Huckabee.

I just spoke with one of our local media outlets to either confirm or deny reports from Fox News that Mike Huckabee has won the Kansas caucuses.

According to our outlet, with about 65% of the vote in, Huckabee has about 60% of the of the total ballots counted to this point. Here in Lyon County, Kansas, Mike won the caucus by 50% to 33% over John McCain. “Huckabee is rolling in Kansas,” said my source.

And, so, the race goes on. The pundits keep declaring that Riger mortis is going to set in, but Mike Keeps running. It’s the chariots of fire, the fire shut up in the bones, the abiding faith that keeps him going.

There are twenty-six states to go. I cannot say how it will all end, but I do know that Mike will continue the race. Faith and fire compel him.

1 comment:

Lin said...

I was again inspired by Mike Huckabee when he spoke at CPAC earlier today and, as always, made me think maybe the impossible might just be possible after all. Either way, by staying in the race, he is keeping very important issues before the public and also giving the remaining states their due. Certainly we should either change the system and allow ALL states to vote on Super Tuesday or value each and every voter who just happens to live in an 'after Super Tuesday state'. Mike has done that. As he so aptly put it this morning, "... this is an election, not a coronation". Whatever happens in the end, I dearly hope Mike Huckabee and his inspirational message will ring in our ears forever.