I have quite a collection of movies on my (currently limited) shelf-space. I admit I’m a movie junkie and they’re probably not all on what you’d expect to be on a Christian writer’s shelf – and no, not THAT kind of movie, more “violent” than most Christian ministers will admit to watching.
The thing is, amongst the mayhem and comedy (big Cosby fan too), I have an entire shelf dedicated to a few movies that have inspired me over the last few years. I’m missing one which I had on VHS but am missing on DVD, namely Schindler’s List, but the others either I never had on VHS or have only been produced since I switched format.
The movies are good for reminding me about aspects of myself. I have the Narnia movies, Lord of the Rings, Gladiator and a few other fictional movies, but the ones that really inspire me are the true-life stories. I watched “Chariots of Fire” again this evening. Most people watch it and are inspired by the story of Harold Abrahams, which although truly inspired is not the highlight for me. I see the conviction of Eric Liddell as the true highlight of the movie. He was set to quit the entire Olympic team rather than compromise his beliefs and – in his view – dishonour God by competing on a Sunday. I have left a job in the past because trying to balance my faith with the owner’s desire to force me to read a copy of Madonna’s “Sex” book and old copies of soft porn magazines proved to be more stressful than I wanted in my life. And my doctor agreed. But in the UK, it wasn’t a huge sacrifice for me. The benefit system meant I had a safety net under me. In fact my income went up at that point.
Liddell’s conviction was unparalleled in his generation of athletes. His character in “Chariots of Fire” tells his sister that although he is going to China to be a missionary that God made him fast as well, and to turn away from running would dishonour God just as much as abandoning his other calling. He says when he runs he can feel His pleasure.
I meditated on that sentence for years after I heard Mike Yaconelli talk about it at Greenbelt Arts Festival in 1991. What did I do that allowed me to “feel” His pleasure?
I realised at that point that there were two things that I was doing that gave me that feeling. I’d recently started writing – an old Atari ST computer – and speaking intermittently about God to groups a bit. On a small scale, preaching.
I felt God’s pleasure as I wrote and spoke about Him. I still do. With the possible exception of my marriage, there’s not anything I have in this world that I would not give up to be able to do it all full-time.
Talking about God, and writing this blog and the book I’m working on, allow me to feel God in me, flowing through me. Not everything may get down on the screen, and I may get in the way when I’m talking. (I can’t edit my conversation). I was told as a young Christian that I had the gift of Prophecy and Word of Knowledge, which I fought for a long time. I didn’t want it. The responsibility of the gift was unpalatable to me, and I was afraid to use it. But it never went away. People not connected to each other kept telling me the same things. It was like God was trying to tell me something.
I’m kind of dense that way.
I’m someone who somehow needs to be beaten over the head with something a million times in order to see it.
So ok, I started to try to move in the gifts again after watching “Chariots of Fire” about 18 months ago. I wanted to start small, but God dropped a massive bomb in my lap. What He showed me isn’t my story, so I’ll not reveal it here. The point was that He showed me. It was big, messy and someone I didn’t know very well – or for very long. I was terrified, but for the first time I swallowed back and did what Liddell had done. I stepped out in my Faith that I’d heard God and He was guiding me. Not using the gift would be to dishonour Him and His trust in me.
It paid off.
I have to admit, I’m still scared when He shows me something, but after that first time it would have to be something seriously massive – end of the world stuff – to stop me from talking to someone when He inspires me to.
We need that in our lives as Christians. Challenges from God are not temptations to sin, rather they are essential for our Spiritual growth. We have to trust Him to empower us, and learn to hear His voice speaking through what can be very corrupt selfish thoughts. Fear, arrogance, pain can all get in the way. They can all prevent us hearing His voice again the way we are designed to.
But we need the inspiration that comes with God-inspired behaviour.
I love “The Blind Side”, and “Pursuit of Happyness”, but they aren’t what I needed then, and although I can see a few parallels with “Pursuit of Happyness” in my life right now, it’s still Eric Liddell that inspires me. I have a need to feel God’s pleasure. Each month I look at the statistics for this blog and I get inspired to write more as I see not only the number of visits growing, but the places as well. USA, China, Indonesia, Europe and South America all visiting my site and seeing what God had inspired me to write. Hopefully making a difference – which is all I really want to do. Make a difference for God in this world.
Be inspired to inspire.
I believe that is the greatest thing we can do. Healing the sick, re-growing limbs by the command of Jesus’s name or even raising the dead are bells to sound out the power of God to the Real deal. Reuniting our Spirit with God through Christ’s sacrifice. Allowing us to be an inspiration is His way of letting us be a part of Christ’s work.
To inspire others to Him by our lives lived in His service.