Faith on the Frontstretch: Handling penalties in the race of life

A happy Kenseth after qualifying at Richmond
Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images  

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

At a recent press conference, Matt Kenseth expressed grief over punishments levied on his team after last week’s win at Kansas. The driver said the penalties were “grossly unfair” and “borderline shameful.”

Kenseth said JGR had no control over the engine part that failed post-race inspection: one of eight steel connecting rods that weighed less than 3 grams under the legal minimum of 525 grams. “There was no performance advantage. There was no intent,” he said.

Showing more distress for crew chief Jason Ratcliff and team owner Joe Gibbs than for himself, Kenseth said, "I couldn’t feel any worse. There’s no more reputable, honest, hard-working guys with good reputations more so than those two. I feel really bad for them.” Kenseth himself is a humble guy of honorable character and the situation stinks for everyone involved.

Have you ever broken a rule without realizing it and had to pay the price? Or has someone punished you or lashed out at you for something you didn’t quite understand?

That kind of reprimand doesn’t feel good. You feel shocked and wounded by what seems like an injustice. Anxiety and anger bubble up as you scramble for words, trying to explain your side of what happened and prove your honorable intentions. If the situation drags on without resolution, you may feel alone, desperately hoping for someone to help you - someone with the power to make things right. But when emotions run high, it’s hard to know how to act and where to go for help.

There was a guy in the Bible who experienced that kind of confusing persecution – David, the same one who killed the giant with a stone and a sling. A half-crazed king named Saul became jealous of David’s success and popularity, so he made false accusations and plotted against David.

Is NASCAR behaving toward Kenseth like King Saul did toward David? No. NASCAR higher-ups are just doing their jobs, following the rulebook to the letter. On the other hand, King Saul actually had evil intentions and tried to kill David for self-serving reasons.

When he was being targeted, David knew exactly where to go for help. He lifted his eyes and his prayers toward heaven. David cried out to God for help, protection and pardon from the king’s unfair accusations.

Likewise, in the face of their upcoming appeal, you can bet there’s a lot of praying going on at JGR headquarters. Men of faith, like Joe and J.D. Gibbs and Matt Kenseth, know when trouble comes, falling on their knees before God is the best plan.

Does that mean God will intervene to help Joe Gibbs Racing win the appeal? Maybe. Maybe not. But no matter what happens, He will be with them, strengthening them throughout the ordeal. Already the No. 20 team rose above the unfortunate circumstances by winning the pole at Richmond, the next race after the penalties were handed down.

If you’re a child of God enduring “penalties” in your race of life, look up! You can seek divine help, too. God is standing by, waiting to give you strength for whatever you’re facing. Take courage from these verses:

I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. ~ Psalm 121:1-2
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!

Faith on the Frontstretch: Handling penalties in the race of life Faith on the Frontstretch: Handling penalties in the race of life Reviewed by Beth Reinke on Wednesday, May 01, 2013 Rating: 5