Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Faith on the Frontstretch: Repair the damage and finish the race

Crew members work on Jeff Gordon's car
after practice at Dover, Sept. 2012.
Credit: Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs  
“...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

Has someone ever bothered you so much that you finally lost it and did something rash? Maybe you lashed out with spiteful words or took actions that damaged the relationship. Then afterwards, you agonized over what happened, feeling guilty one moment and self-righteous the next.

It appears that Jeff Gordon understands those emotions. A week after he purposely crashed Clint Bowyer at Phoenix, Gordon talked about his feelings in his post-win presser at Homestead. Apparently Gordon spent the week since the crash stewing over his actions. Here’s what he said:

“… You can try all you want to try to move past the moment, but man, it just ate me up inside all week. I just keep going back and forth about the decisions that I made and wishing I had made different decisions, to backing up reasons why I made the decisions I made, and I just kept going back and forth from being disappointed, being angry, feeling that I had a right.”

But then Gordon admitted, “I didn't have a right. So that just ate me up all week.”

When something “eats you up,” that’s guilt and it’s normal in the aftermath of conflict. Remorse helps us recognize our wrongdoing. It helps us realize that we’re capable of doing and saying some pretty rotten things.

In a way, guilt is like a remedy to keep us from doing the same dumb thing again. But it is meant to be a temporary catalyst for repentance and change. It reminds us to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Then it’s time to move on with life.

But sometimes we make guilt a way of life and it mutates into an unhealthy emotion called shame.

God knows all of us have made poor decisions and done stupid stuff. Oftentimes we have to live with the natural consequences of our sins. But the last thing He wants is for us to wallow in shame and be weighed down by guilt. Instead, God wants us to be free from shame and self-condemnation. He even made a way for anyone to have that freedom.

If there was a wreck in your past that’s left you damaged by guilt, maybe it’s time to let God fix your crumpled heart. God is like a mechanic on standby in the garage on race day. He’s waiting for you to let Him repair the damage and send you back out to get the best possible finish.

Talk to God about what you’ve done that makes you feel ashamed. If you are truly sorry, tell Him, then ask Him to forgive you. Most importantly, thank Him for sending Jesus to take the punishment for your wrongdoings. Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior means you don’t have to feel that guilt anymore.

Let God repair your damage. Finish the race guilt-free.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. ~ Psalm 32:5
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Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 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. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

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