Summer is almost upon us, Dear Blog-Nog Friends,
Today’s old rhyme was actually one of numerous market day rhymes, where villagers set out off to buy pantry potpourri, from a pig to a plum bun and the miscellany of mankind.
My sister, Sadie, and I always went to the open-air market at Abergele, North Wales, whenever I went back home for a visit. So, today, here in Oklahoma, the fine bone china egg cups (holding our fine local Fisher eggs), are happy reminders of those market days of fun and bargain hunting.
The words Wibbleton to Wobbleton roll off the tongue in playful fashion, so I rendered this old rhyme as a parable in the Christian Mother Goose series. Here it is with a telling question at the end.
The dawning of Wobbleton could fit very nicely in Genesis 3. And it appears the town didn’t take long to arise. Adam and Eve quickly became the first residents of Wobbleton when they wobbled in unbelief, choosing to believe the words of the tempter (Satan) instead of the words of The Lord God. (Unbelief always makes us wobble) Paradise was lost, and Adam became Governor of Wobbleton instead.
Wobbleton sat perched on the edge of a great divide. And so began the long line of citizen wobblers huddled there, afraid to cross the bridge The Lord God had mercifully provided. “It might not hold,” they said, as they viewed the fairer hills and fields on the other side. And as their doubt increased, so did their wobbling.
Nevertheless, a handful of men in Wobbleton began to call upon The Lord, and set out one day., albeit in fear and trembling to cross the bridge. The canyon was terrifying, but the bridge held strong and secure. Hallelujah! The town of Wibbleton was born.
Then, from that day to this, the Wibbletonians cross the bridge to rally the Wobbleton wobblers and sing to them on their way out of Wobbleton and across the bridge to the joyous town of Wibbleton.
It was known thereafter as, “The City which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.”
At this point we join the 1981 Oscar-winning film, “Chariots of Fire.” My son, Kevin and I watched it last week. What a great movie featuring the true life story of the Scottish missionary/Olympian, Eric Liddell. He was no wobbler! – on the mission field or the running track.
Eric was born in 1902 to veteran Scottish missionary parents, James and Mary Liddell in Tientsin, North China. He was born to run! A line from Chariots of Fire expressed this eloquently: “I believe God made me for a purpose. He also made me fast! And when I run I feel His pleasure.”
During his years at Edinburgh University, Scotland, he distinguished himself as Scotland’s best sprinter, setting new records in spite of an unorthodox, awkward running style. He was followed by adoring crowds who loved him not only for his “miracle” races, but also for his humility, sportsmanship and gentle nature. On weekends he could be found sharing the Gospel of Christ with sports-loving men.
In 1924 the Olympics were to be held in Paris. Eric Liddell set his sights to be on Great Britain’s Olympic team for the 100 and 200 meter race events. He won both races in the trials held in England; even setting a new British record that held for 35 years.
After the Olympic team was announced, newspapers all over Great Britain were filled with stories of Liddell as Britain’s best hope for the coveted 100-meter gold medal.
And here’s where the heart of the film, “Chariots of Fire,” comes in; as well as the test of “wobbling”for the heart of young Liddell.
All his life he believed and honored Sunday as a day of rest and a day to reverence fellowship with God. The Scottish athletic community and his coach knew he did not run races on Sunday. But the 100-meter Paris heat was set for a Sunday. His heart sank, but he did not wobble. He would not run for the prized Olympic gold on Sunday,
Despite British intervention, the Olympic rules stood firm – so did Eric in his Christian belief. No wobbling here – no even in the face of harsh public condemnation for “letting his country down.”
Now in national rejection, Eric was asked if he would run the 400-meter race set for a Friday. This race was certainly not Eric’s specialty, but he eagerly accepted and managed to inch into the finals.
At 7 p.m. Friday, the stadium was packed with an excited crowd there to see the American runner, Horatio Fitch, bring home the gold. He held the new world record. Six runners drew numbers for their lane position. Eric drew the undesirable number six outside lane, but in his pocket was a note from the British team masseur: “In the old Book it says: ‘He who honours Me, I will honour.’ Wishing you the best of success.”
The runners took position. The pistol fired. Five of the world’s best quarter-milers shot forward, plus one untrained newcomer to that distance. All eyes were on the deftly-styled Fitch, but it was the unorthodox-styled Eric Liddell who burst through the finish line to win, setting a new world record of 47.6 seconds, and leaving Fitch in a distant second place. The crowd went wild! Liddell had done it again!
They didn’t know that at the height of his running career, he would soon be dedicating the rest of his life as a missionary/teacher to China. The greatest race of all was before him.
Eric Liddell died at age 43 in a Japanese internment camp in China, during World War II; beloved and greatly mourned by thousands of Chinese souls he had gently guided across the Jesus Bridge to that “City whose Builder and Maker is God.” God was waiting to hand him the gold.
And for now, dear readers, whatever course may tempt us to wobble in this wobbly world, look up! “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
Because Jesus is the “forever” Bridge over all troubled waters, let’s walk that way together in His blessings.
Cheerio for now,
Christian Mother Goose®