One of my favorite running heroes is a man named Eric Liddell (known as the Flying Scotsman). Eric was a sprinter who inspired the Oscar-winning movie Chariots of Fire. He won the gold medal in the 400-meter dash during the Paris Olympics in 1924, and he also went down in history for refusing to run an Olympic race on a Sunday because of his religious beliefs. He’s famous for this quote from the movie: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.”
Eric understood that running was not just for his personal glory and to win medals; he felt God’s pleasure when he ran because he was doing what God designed him to do. Liddell was also a missionary to China.
Romans 12:1 urges us to take our everyday, ordinary life and place it before God as an offering. Eric offered up running to God as his spiritual act of worship. We don’t have to go to a church building to experience worship. The English word worship means “to ascribe worth to something.”
Worship is a way we can individually and collectively ascribe worth to God and bring Him glory. God invites us to worship in a diversity of ways.
The Message describes it this way: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him” (Romans 12:1). In other words, we can worship God while we sing, cook, wash dishes, drive, work, rest, and yes, even while we run.
Worship has the power to lift our spirits, to turn us toward hope, and to change the landscape of our hearts. When I take time to notice God’s glory in the midst of hard days, I can’t help but respond in worship.
Worship music and running helps lift me from heart-heaviness. Somehow my heart feels lighter when I am out on a trail or when I’m singing. Sometimes I do both.
Running (and walking) is a physical activity where we can offer up our bodies in worship and experience God.
I find myself breathing in His presence as my footsteps lead me on a winding trail through the forest or along a hillside. As I run, there is space for my soul to sing and express my gratitude to God. I see glimpses of His glory in the lemon-yellow wildflowers swaying in the breeze and billowing cotton-candy clouds drifting in the distance. This is all part of worship.
In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul exhorts us, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (ESV). His point was that we can worship God in everything we do to the best of our ability. Eric Liddell adapted this idea in his own life and training: “In the dust of defeat as well as the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best,” he said. Whether in his running or his mission work, Eric was always intentional to give the glory back to God.
Friend, are you facing some dark circumstance today? Are you traversing a valley? Are you navigating through grief and loss? Run to worship. It can change the landscape of your heart. God will meet you there.
*This is an excerpt from Walk, Run, Soar, a 52-week devotional on the theme of running life’s race and learning to soar. Connect with Dorina and find out more about the book at www.DorinaGilmore.com If you’re a runner, take our fun running quiz and find out which Biblical runner you are most like!