This weekend was filled with action-packed races. I ran a new PR (personal record) in a race on Saturday, which concluded my training before my marathon a week away; and watched, along with my beloved, NASCAR-loving son, ‘fire and rain’ during the kickoff of the NASCAR race season. With rain delays all day Sunday, every NASCAR fan around the country anxiously awaited tonight’s race, which was filled with many fluke accidents and a scary incident with 40 laps to go. During the 7th caution, Juan Pablo Montoya lost control of his car coming down the back stretch and crashed into a jet dryer which ignited into a huge fireball in Turn Three.
It’s no surprise that this dangerous sport calls on the Christian faith. In fact, no sport has a strong spiritual presence than NASCAR. It’s not uncommon to see drivers praying on pit road before a race or to hear them thanking God for His blessings after a safe run.
In an article featured in Inside NASCAR, driver David Reutimann said, “When you get into a race car there’s a very strong reality that what you are doing is very dangerous and it may not work out in your favor. You may not come back, so I think I’m a person that needs more prayer than most and we all have to believe that there is someone higher than the spotter’s stand looking out for us all.” He continues sharing that the cross above his door is a reminder how he is supposed to act in his Christian walk on and off the track. “The cross has been there since the beginning,” he said.
Many crews are seen praying together before their driver gets into the car including two Joe Gibbs Racing teams. Gibbs, an NFL Hall of Fame coach, believes that the operations on his two cars work better together with a team commitment with Christ. “Think about this,” says Gibbs in a video on his website, www.GamePlanForLife.com. “If God’s our head coach, would he put us here without a game plan? Absolutely not. He left what? His Word, the Bible. As my life is a testimony, I’ll tell you this, following the wrong game plan, it leads to disaster. Following God’s game plan for life led me to success.”
No one knows that better than drivers like Jamie McMurray, David Reutimann and Trevor Bayne, who have all given their lives to God. “Faith is a big part of our lives off and on the track and the reason the presence hasn’t changed in NASCAR, despite our growth, is because our drivers who lead by example are in the sport for years,” Bayne said.
In watching this incredible sport, I reflected how these faithful drivers depend on each other for encouragement, accountability, and prayer in their Christian walk. Developing right relationships is a crucial part of becoming a wise follower of Christ. Proverbs 13:4 says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise.” And Paul writes in I Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company corrupts good character.” You eventually become like the people you spend the majority of your time with, so it is important to surround yourself with godly people who will lead you closer to the Lord.
If your spiritual engine is running on fumes and you feel like you’re falling behind in the race, don’t see a fan in sight or you’ve hit the wall, remember these wise words from former Nationwide driver, Brett Rowe, in his Six Flags of the Gospel.
- The gospel begins with green: “When you accept Christ in your life, you’ve started a new race,” he says.
- Yellow means caution. “You’re getting way out in front of the Lord and you’re liable to have a wreck.”
- Red means stop. “Every now and then the Lord says, ‘Stand still.’ We need to stop and pray about it, study until we get the answer.”
- A black flag signals danger. “You need to get something fixed before they’ll let you pull out again.”
- White flag: “The race is almost done. Just hang in there.”
- And finally, the checkered flag is 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”