Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Faith on the Frontstretch: Adversity abounds in every race

Bobby Labonte before the Texas race.
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs  
“...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

In NASCAR, adversity is as plentiful as lug nuts on pit road. Each race is a mini-drama, with drivers at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend experiencing their share of misadventures. Here are a few examples:

* Suffering from the stomach flu, Bobby Labonte climbed out of the car during the race, necessitating a seat change to fit his taller replacement driver, Michael McDowell, whose car overheated earlier.

* Penske teammates Keselowski and Logano had rear end housing issues, with Logano barely escaping final inspection in time to start the race.

* Carl Edwards suspected he had engine troubles, which turned out to be a cracked tail pipe, followed by issues with his seatbelts.

* Greg Biffle started at the rear, worked his way into the top 10 by Lap 100, then got a speeding penalty on pit road and had to fight his way back to the front.

* Martin Truex had a dominant car, led 142 laps, but ended up settling for yet another second-place finish when Kyle Busch beat him off pit road on the final stop.

* And an injured Denny Hamlin watched from the pit box as Brian Vickers piloted Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota.

All kinds of things go wrong during races, but there’s something about NASCAR folks that sets them apart. When a mishap or breakdown occurs on the track, teams react instantly, search for a solution and a find way to get back up-to-speed. Drivers may gripe over the radio, but then they listen to their crew chiefs and do their part to regain lost ground.

In the face of adversity, drivers dig deep. They seem to have a bit of extra intensity up their firesuit sleeves that they pull out when the heat is on. In fact, despite their difficulties, Edwards, Biffle and Logano finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Over the years we’ve seen guys on track right after knee surgery, with broken bones or burns and grieving the recent death of a loved one.

Adversity abounds in our regular race of life, too. When it bumps us from behind without warning, it’s hard not to grumble and gripe. But fretting just makes a bitter pill taste even worse.

There’s another way to approach our troubles. Maybe it’s a method some of the drivers use, too, who knows?

When problems start to pile up ... stop. Take a deep calming breath and pour your heart out to God. Don’t mince words. Tell Him exactly how you’re feeling, just like you’d talk to a friend.

But here’s the key thing. When you’ve talked it out, then get quiet. Ask God to show you what He wants you to learn in the midst of this frustrating situation.

Sometimes our troubles foster empathy, so we can help someone in a similar situation down the road. Other times, trials pull us closer to God as we lean on Him for strength and guidance.

Any time adversity rumbles through our "race of life," God is waiting to offer comfort and wisdom.

All we have to do is ask.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   ~ Matthew 11:28
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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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