Faith on the Frontstretch: Jimmie Johnson tangles with monsters

Jimmie & Chandra Johnson distributing supplies to tornado victims in Moore, Okla.
Credit: Julie Denesha/Lowe's  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

Jimmie Johnson is accustomed to monsters lurking nearby. With seven wins at Dover, his trophy case boasts an army of “Miles the Monster” models. But lately the five-time champ has tussled with more monsters than usual - some friendly, some terrifying and others just plain vexing.

Credit: Beth Bence Reinke
 Last week Johnson visited communities hit by monster tornados. Helping storm victims was especially meaningful for he and his wife, Chandra, because she is an Oklahoma native. He said walking through a debris field brought out a range of emotions. He was in awe of the power of the storm, throwing around big things like cars and buildings as if they were paper. On the other hand, he said the human element really touched him.

“I was certainly shocked and floored by what I saw. It really hits you deep to meet the people, see the damage and in some ways kind of imagine in your mind what they went through,” Johnson said. “I met a child that was in one of those schools and I could still see on his face and in his eyes the fear that he had.”

Monster No. 1 was the tornado. No. 2? Fear.

Then on Sunday, Five-Time raced at the Monster Mile with his No. 48 car wrapped in the “Monsters University” paint scheme. Blue-haired Sulley and green, one-eyed Mike rode along on the side and rear panels, smiling at fans. So Dover International Speedway was No. 3, the colorful monsters on the car were No. 4 and No 5.

Credit: Beth Bence Reinke
Before the race ended, the final monster reared its head. As Johnson led the field on Lap 381, NASCAR black-flagged him for jumping the restart, and the resulting pass-thru penalty left him with a 17th-place finish - monster No. 6.

No one minds not-so-scary monsters like Sulley and Mike, who are funny and entertaining. But many breeds of monsters induce panic, even for guys who think nothing of driving 180 miles per hour on banked concrete.

“Tornados really frighten me,” Johnson told the media, after he spent time in storm-ravaged towns. “A storm shelter is a top priority for me next time I go back, wherever I stay or whatever I do. I saw a lady who ... had an in-ground storm shelter. Without a doubt, it saved her life because her house wasn’t even there. The only thing left was the doors to go down into the shelter.”

The storm shelter formed a protective barrier for that woman. The tornado still raged, but she was shielded by her underground fortress. Destruction was all around, but she was saved because she ran to the shelter and went inside.

We all have monsters that twist and turn through our lives, right? Job losses, medical bills, kids in trouble, faltering marriages – monsters of fear and uncertainty that suck the wind out of us. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a shelter from all that?

We do. God Almighty.

The shelter didn’t slow the wind or diminish the monster storm. God doesn’t always take away our storms either. But He wraps His arms around us, shielding and calming us. When we rest our hearts in God’s protection, it brings a peace. That’s what it means to “dwell in the shelter of the Most High.” We rest. God protects. Peace comes.

Is God your storm shelter when the monsters come?

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” ~ Psalm 91:1-2

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: Jimmie Johnson tangles with monsters Faith on the Frontstretch: Jimmie Johnson tangles with monsters Reviewed by Beth Reinke on Wednesday, June 05, 2013 Rating: 5