After seeing Ryan triumph at the Boston Marathon, it seems clear that he made the right decision to self-coach and go with his heart rather than conventional wisdom. Having followed Ryan through his blog and Twitter, you feel he’s as genuine and authentic as they come and it is great to see a professional athlete be so dedicated and in tune with God’s will for his life. After witnessing Ryan’s recent marathon performance, it reminds me of another great runner, Eric Linddell, a devout Scottish Christian who ran for the glory of God. Many of you probably know Eric Linddell’s story through the classic movie Chariots of Fire. There is a wonderful quote by Linddell in the movie where he states, “I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Ryan has stated that running has always been deeply spiritual for him and I’m sure he knows exactly what Eric Linddell felt like when he ran. I, myself, although far from being a fast runner, find the act of running facilitates a deep connection with God.
Now I don’t mean to imply that because someone is a Christian they will be blessed with impressive accomplishments and abilities like Ryan or Eric Linddell – it takes lots of very hard work, natural gifts, and God’s will to accomplish these types of feats. But examples like this certainly bring glory to God and should inspire us to put our faith in Him to lead us down the correct path as we pursue our interests and goals in life. This means not only working hard to achieve, but also getting down on our knees and pray, seeking his guidance to ensure our heart and God’s will are aligned.
Beyond Ryan and Linddell, the sport of running is full of great Christian role models to emulate, such as Josh Cox, Jim Ryun, and Nick Willis. In a world where professional athletes use performance enhancing drugs, are unappreciative of their insanely high salaries, and lack proper sportsmanship, it is very refreshing to see Christians who put their faith on public display excel and genuinely live their life in accordance with the word of God.