|The finish line at Dover International Speedway|
Credit: Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs
“...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b
Sometimes when he’s calling a NASCAR race, Fox commentator Darrell Waltrip uses the term “cats” to refer to drivers. This isn’t an actual quote from Waltrip, but he makes comments like, “Hang onto your hats, folks, because these cats are ready to go racing!”
It’s a funny slang word, and in a way, the drivers are like cats – especially the speedy cheetah. The cheetah is the fastest land mammal, going from zero to 60 miles per hour in three seconds. But a cheetah doesn’t race around in a willy-nilly fashion or look backwards. Before she attacks, a cheetah looks forward, scanning the savannah to pinpoint exactly where she wants to go.
A driver focuses on where he wants to go, too. His gaze pierces through the visor and windshield to his destination: onward to the finish line. But instead of bringing down a gazelle, a driver wants to bring home a trophy.
Every driver knows that looking back all the time won’t earn him that trophy. It’s true that the rearview mirror is helpful for quick glances. Looking back once in a while helps a driver get his bearings and check where the competitors are running. But if he watches rearward for too long, he will lose ground because the racecar tends to go where the driver is looking.
A fixation with what is behind can mess with a driver’s head, too. If he thinks the other cars are gaining on him, emotions may adversely affect his performance.
In real life, a quick glimpse back to learn from past mistakes may be helpful. But looking backwards all the time can be less-than-fruitful for most people’s productivity and emotions. Dwelling on prior slip-ups leaves us mired in regrets. Like an engine full of sludge, we get weighed down by gunk. When we can’t even get the engine fired, reaching the finish line seems like an impossible goal.
The apostle Paul tells us to forget the past and push ahead. He wrote the verse about pressing on toward the goal to win the prize. It describes someone with the single-mindedness of an athlete running a race. Don’t look back. Run straight toward the goal!
How do we “press on toward the finish line” in our everyday lives? By focusing on God. Worshipping Him. Talking with Him in prayer. Reading the Bible. Letting His love shine through us to other people as we love and serve them.
When you are a child of God, your past no longer defines you. What you do with today is what matters. Each day that you "press on" takes you closer to the finish line. How’s your race going?
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 3:13b-14 (NIV)
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“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!