Allyson Felix: Running Fast and Feeling God’s Pleasure

Chariots of Fire is one of my two favorite movies. And my favorite line from Chariots comes as Eric Liddell, the Flying Scotsman, missionary, and Olympic hopeful, explains his desire to run to his concerned sister, Jenny. She was so worried that worldly success would permanently sidetrack her brother from their mission work in China.

Eric explained with a powerful description, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” Bravo! Liddell knew he was running for the Audience of One who creates each of us with purposes and gifts.

Allyson Felix demonstrated that strength of purpose while competing in the Olympics in Rio. Her Facebook posts read like an athlete’s devotional, praising and thanking God continually. And amazingly, after I began writing this article, I found Felix had used that very quote on August 7.

On August 12 Allyson wrote:

My heart is filled with gratitude as I prepare to walk to the starting line in my 4th Olympics. It has been a year of adversity, but I have embraced the process. No matter the outcome I praise God for it all. My fight continues tomorrow!

And then yesterday’s race ended in an unexpected manner. As written by Sean Gregory at Time:

Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas doesn’t know why she dove headfirst at the end of Monday night’s 400-m final at Rio’s Olympic stadium. She says she never did it before — it’s not exactly something sprinters practice. But she felt American Allyson Felix charging in the last 20-meters. Her legs felt heavy. She could taste a gold medal. Her body took over. So she dove.

. . .

With the victory, Miller earned the Bahamas its first gold medal of the Rio Olympics. Felix fell .07 seconds short, winning her third Olympic silver in an individual race. Shericka Jackson of Jamaica took bronze.

The silver wasn’t what Felix was fighting for, though she did break a record.

The silver gave Felix her seventh Olympic medal, making her the most decorated women’s track and field athlete in American history and breaking the U.S. record of six held by her mentor Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

But, despite the disappointment caused by Miller’s impromptu dive, Allyson posted on her FB page:

Last night didn’t end the way I had dreamed. I’m disappointed. I was quickly reminded of countless reasons to be proud, thankful and grateful. Bobby told me this is the most proud he has ever been of me. That resonated with me. Everything went wrong this year, but some way I made it here and won a silver medal. I fought as hard as I could and gave my all. I’m most proud of never giving up on my dreams in the face of adversity. I’m extremely humbled to now be the most decorated female Olympian in USATF history. All glory to God!

The biggest thank you to all of YOU! I have never felt more loved, appreciated and uplifted.

Allyson Felix has shown much more than the ability to run like a gazelle in the wind; her character has been measured and tried and shines like the coveted gold medal. But unlike Olympic gold, Allyson’s character will last.

She ran the race, felt God’s pleasure in the moment as she used her talents. Now she should feel God’s applause as her grace and gratitude are a living display of a life lived to glorify the Savior.

The words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy come to mind:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Allyson fought like a champion, she finished the race, and now she’s keeping the faith for all the world to see.

First published at