112) Eric Liddell

 

四年一度的奧林匹克運動會,2012年在倫敦舉行,爲了奪得一面獎牌,各國選手展出渾身解數,有人作弊,有人嗑藥,有人打假,反正各盡奇謀,就是要得到每個運動員夢寐以求的一個獎牌。眾所周知,獎牌其實真正價值不是很高,但背後所帶來的榮譽和回國之後的各種好處卻是數之不盡,這種唯利是圖的心態,跟當初希臘人提出的奧林匹克運動精神可以說是完全違背了。2008京奧就有一個瑞典選手﹐在摔跤項目中﹐祇拿到一面銅牌﹐他非常不滿意﹐他強調參加比賽就是拿金牌﹐因此在領獎的時候﹐對著會眾大罵裁判不公平﹐最後把銅牌摔在地上﹐不肯接受。中國大陸以前也提過友誼第一比賽第二這個口號,今天只能當作是笑談,現在連銀牌銅牌都不入流,唯有金牌才被認為是真貨。所以你能夠體會中國運動選手參加奧運的心理壓力是何等的大。中國跳欄選手劉翔就因要背負13億中國人期盼的重擔,兩次奧運尚未上場就已經受傷,與其說是身體受傷,倒不如是心理壓力過重。

 

基督徒講奧運﹐難免要談到一位運動健將,他的名字叫Eric Liddell,其父母在中國清朝時代從英國到中國作宣教士,他本身是蘇格蘭人,但出生在中國天津。Eric天生性格善良,並且擁有上帝賦予的賽跑恩賜,不過他在田徑場上比賽的心態跟一般運動員完全不同,他認為在運動場得勝是榮耀上帝方法之一。

 

Eric六歲時從中國回到英國,並接受當地高中和大學教育,但他年輕時就懷著跟他父母一樣的心志,要到中國成為一個傳道者,在他尚未成為宣教士以前,他願意以神所給予的恩賜來榮耀神。

 

Eric 很早就顯出他運動天賦,1920年在愛丁堡大學念書時,他的體育天份初露頭角,成為該校一位很出色的橄欖運動員,後來更上一層樓,進入蘇格蘭國家隊,當時英國報界給予他很高評價,認為他將來在橄欖球場上會有出色成就,但沒多久,他被英國知名教練看中了,並引領他走上田徑之路。之後,Eric在大學運動會經常參加100碼和220碼短跑,而且成績驚人,為此,英國上下對他給予厚望,盼望他能夠在1924巴黎奧運為英國在田徑項目上奪取一面金牌,而他也如此期盼。但許多人不知道Eric有他個人做事原則,他參與比賽是爲了榮耀上帝,如果有違神旨意的事情,他會拒絕參與,很不幸的是,那一年巴黎奧運100公尺比賽被安排在星期天,而Eric認為安息日是敬拜神的日子,逼不得已只好放棄。儘管當時英國王室和奧運委員會多方遊說,但都被他拒絕。
Eric在巴黎奧運揭幕以前,其實早已知道100公尺比賽將會在星期天舉行,因此他預早放棄參與這項比賽,而專攻非他專長的400公尺比賽項目。儘管他在初賽拿到小組第一名,但總成績仍然不在最佳前三名,意思是說,除非他在決賽有驚人表現,否則他得獎牌的機會很渺茫。Eric因信仰而放棄100公尺比賽這件事情,早已引起很多人的注意,就在400公尺決賽前,美國代表團的復健師遞給他一張字條,上面引用了舊約聖經一句話,「尊重我的,我必重看他。」(撒上2:30)。神果然看顧尊崇祂的Eric,儘管400公尺不是他的專長,而且抽籤被分放在最外圍的跑道,在最不看好的情況下,他居然跑出47秒6的世界紀錄,拿到這項比賽的金牌。

 

Eric跟許多運動選手很不一樣,得獎牌非他人生目標,榮耀神才是最重要,但不要以為他到田徑場上敷衍了事,他每次參加競賽,他必然全力以赴,會把握任何贏取獎牌的機會,但他心態不是爲了自己,乃是爲了神。正因為他以神居首位,連在英國國家元首和奧運委員會面前也買帳,神因他得榮耀,而神也讓他在世人面前得榮耀。

 

奧運可以說是我們今天這個社會一個縮影﹐運動員在奧運所追求一面獎牌﹐跟一般人在日常生活中追求財富名利等東西大同小異。追求這些物質東西並非是錯,正如球員在球場上要得一面獎牌也沒有不對,重點在乎人的心態,一個人能夠按著神所賜的天賦來發揮他的才能,貢獻社會,過榮耀神的日子,同時以感恩心來享受神所給予的一切,神會加倍祝福他;但如果一個人為求滿足個人私欲,眼目放在地上的榮華富貴,為求目的不擇手段,心中無神,眼中無人,這種心態跟一個奧運選手用嗑藥、作弊方法求得一面獎牌並無差別,但這卻非神喜悅的事情,他們在地上得不到祝福,在天國也失去永恆的獎賞。

 

巴黎奧運之後,Eric自動放棄所有可以讓他名成利就的機會,他回應神對他的呼召,去到中國,跟從他父親的腳蹤,作了一位全職的宣教士,最後他也死在他出生的地方,他沒有為得一面奧運獎牌而迷失,而也沒有被世上榮華富貴所蒙蔽。許多年後,中國天津立碑紀念這位曾經在中國撒下福音神的僕人,當然,他在天國得到的獎賞才是最具永恆意義。

高偉雄(www.timothyko.com

One thought on “112) Eric Liddell

  1. ysundfw says:

    Thanks, Dr. Ko! Great message and very insightful sharing. Eric’ story is also made into the movie “Chariots of Fire”.

    Professor Clayton Christensen from Harvard business school also told a similar story in his recent book “How will you measure your life”. In the days when Clayton studied at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, he played on the university varsity basketball team. His team did really well and advanced into the final for the British national championship (similar to NCAA). However, he was devastated knowing that the game was scheduled on Sunday. Clayton prayed hard about this but determined that he cannot play because he has made commitments to the Heavenly Father to observe the Sabbath. Instead he prayed for his teammates. His team ended up winning the championship without him.
    Both Eric and Professor Christensen showed great examples of what should be the purpose in everything we do.

    Often times, people are mixing the purpose with the end results. Are the end results like winning the Olympic gold medal, getting that promotion, or becoming a millionaire the true purpose or motivation for things we do? I’m sure Eric loves to win, otherwise he wouldn’t be in the game. However, winning isn’t his true purpose in running. He believes running is his way of glorifying God’s given talent/blessing in him. In other words, he runs to glorify God. Everything else follows. He may or may not win the Olympic gold medal, but that’s not his focus and doesn’t really matter to him. Eric certainly enjoyed every step of running when he let that God’s-given talent shine through him. The end result is only the by-product for what he does when he focuses on the doing.

    There are many means to get to the end but not every means pleases God. And the outcome can be quite different as well depending on where one puts his focus in the process. Lance Armstrong’s recent fall from grace is a sad story and also an example of focusing only on the end results can lead to something one may not like.

    In his popular philosophy book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Robert Pirsig discussed what Quality is and how Quality comes about. Quality like fame, beauty, or health is something that emerges from the process as a by-product but cannot be the goal of the process. Alexander Christopher also said the same in his book “The timeless way of building” that Quality cannot be defined and has no name. One cannot define Quality for defining quality will limit or constraint what the quality is about. Whatever you define, one can easily find an exception or something that meets all what you just defined but has no quality. In an ancient Chinese story, Xi Shi is the well-known beauty. Her neighbor Dong Shi was jealous and tried hard to mimic every posture or move Xi Shi does, however, that didn’t make Dong Shi beautiful. Quite contrary, it made Dong Shi appear even uglier.

    So, how does Quality or other similar attributes like beauty, health, or fame come about if it cannot be the purpose in the pursuit? Richard said beautifully in his book that Quality emerges when subject puts his sole focus and attention on the object he is working on and he is not thinking anything else. At that very moment, subject loses himself and loses track of time, subject and object are becoming one and God’s creative power flows naturally from the subject with no interference from Subject’s own mind into the object. What comes out of this process is the true Quality. If the subject has anything else in his mind while working on the object, the outcome will deviate from its ideal quality. When artist Van Gogh works on his painting, if the only thing in his mind is how much his painting will sell, it’ll be doubtful his painting will come across with that well recognized quality.

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