Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Faith on the Frontstretch: When the Race is Finished

“...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

NASCAR fans were shocked when one of our own was killed by lightning during the storm at Pocono on August 5th. Race-goers at the track who witnessed the event were understandably shaken by the experience.

Seeing tragedy in action is different than hearing about it on the evening news. People die somewhere every day, but unless we know them or have some kind of connection to them, it doesn’t always impact us at the gut level. But the knowledge that a fellow race fan lost his life while doing something we all love is sobering, and our prayers go out to his family and friends.

What a terrifying time it must have been for the nine other race fans who were injured by the lightning and for those nearby. Imagine the fear they felt seeing the power of the storm and realizing how easily they could have been killed, too.

Do you ever think about your own death? For each of us, the race of life will be over someday. Many of us wonder about the details. Will it hurt? Will I simply cease to exist or will I travel somewhere else? Will I go to heaven or be reincarnated on earth as a caterpillar or a horse?

It’s uncomfortable to think about death because it seems dark and scary. Yet it’s normal to want to know the particulars, and once we start thinking about it, we can drive ourselves crazy with questions.

This isn’t a topic where we want to have a roundtable discussion to hear everyone’s opinion. We need the truth! Thankfully there is someone who knows. God created us and He gives us these truths about death:

*According to God, people who believe in Jesus as their Savior will have eternal life in heaven after they die.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (1)

*According to scripture, a person’s soul goes to heaven immediately when he or she dies. That means our souls do not wander around the earth as ghosts.

... we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. (2)

Jesus confirmed this when he spoke to the dying thief, as they hung side-by-side on their crosses. The thief said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (3) Jesus didn’t say He would see the thief in heaven tomorrow or next week or soon. He said “today.”

Doesn’t that soothe your soul? For me, that conversation between Jesus and the thief is such a comfort. It means when I take my last breath of earth’s air, I’ll be in heaven in a heartbeat.

My friend, I hope what Jesus said to the thief brings you joy, too, because you already have that same assurance. Ask yourself, where will I go when my race of life is finished? If you’re not sure you’d go to heaven, consider this your invitation to pray the prayer below.

Dear God, I know I’ve done things wrong but I want to be forgiven. Thank you that Jesus died to take the punishment for my sins. Right now I want to accept Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior and be assured that I’ll go to heaven someday. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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For more on this topic, visit this article by Pastor Charles Stanley: How to End Well

 1 (John 3:16, NIV, emphasis added)
 2 (2 Corinthians 5:8, NASB, emphasis added)
 3 (Luke 23:42-43, NIV, emphasis added)
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Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 or more to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.

“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth also writes “Gibbs Garage,” Sprint Cup race recaps for Joe Gibbs Racing teams. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

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