Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Faith on the Frontstretch: Go Fast!

RCR's Austin Dillon showed fans how to go fast at Daytona Preseason Thunder.
Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

“Go fast!” is the motto of NASCAR drivers and other racers everywhere. Sometimes it’s even used as the hashtag #gofast. But the meaning of this little sentence changes if we add a comma: “Go, fast.”

Fast is one of those funny words, called homographs, which have the same spelling but two different meanings.

As an adjective, fast means speedy, like the No. 3 car atop the charts during Daytona Preseason Thunder last week. Go fast!

But as a verb or noun, fast means to intentionally go without eating for a time. Go, fast.

Fasting is usually a bad idea for NASCAR athletes, especially on race day. In fact, it would probably take something monumental to make pit crew guys skip lunch on any given day. Self-induced food deprivation has no place in NASCAR, or it didn’t ... until last week.

Last week, driver Ty Dillon and about 30 guys from Richard Childress Racing teams gave up food for an entire day and night. They raised a tent village and camped outside in the cold and drizzle to raise money for hungry kids. For a full 24 hours, the men hung out together - playing corn hole, racing remote control cars and bonding around burn barrels - without eating a morsel of food.

RCR crew members gathered around this burn
 barrel during the Pit Stops for Poverty 24-hour fast.
Credit: Ray Wright
Rear tire carrier Ray Wright, founder of Pit Stops for Poverty, the RCR-based charity coordinating the event, led the charge in raising money to fight hunger since June of 2013. After learning one in four kids in North Carolina is food insecure, he rallied the pit crews and drivers to help fill those hungry bellies.

As a result of the 24-hour fast, crew members can empathize with the burning hollowness a hungry child feels. Participant @_JasonHunt_ tweeted this:

“The @stops4poverty 24hr food fast was quite humbling. Cannot imagine a child enduring what we did. Support @stops4poverty.#24hrfoodfast #RCR

Fasting isn’t a popular practice in our modern culture. When necessary, people fast overnight before having blood tests or surgery, but purposely enduring the discomfort of hunger isn’t a widespread trend. But maybe it should be.

In biblical times, fasting was used as a spiritual discipline, as way to get closer to God. Sometimes people fasted while asking Him for guidance about a big decision. No matter why they fasted, it was a way for people to acknowledge their total dependence on God. Even Jesus himself fasted.

Apparently Jesus witnessed some people acting hoity-toity when they fasted so other people would view them as pious. As a result, he taught His followers a better way to do it. Jesus said when we fast, we should put on a happy face and go about our business, looking and acting normal (see Matthew 6:16-18 below.) Notice in those verses He said when we fast, not if. That’s convicting, isn’t it?

If you feel led to fast as part of your devotion to God, it doesn’t have to be a 24-hour thing. You can fast for just one meal or from a particular food, such as sweets. Or maybe you want to abstain from watching TV for a day or two and use the extra time to pray quietly and listen for God’s direction.

However you do it, the purpose of fasting is to remove an earthly distraction and humble yourself before the Creator. Through fasting, you can honor God, seek His will and welcome His power into your life.

Go, fast.

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.           ~ Matthew 6: 16-18
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As a NASCAR fan, you can help Pit Stops for Poverty feed hungry kids. To find out more, visit their website and follow them on twitter at @stops4poverty.

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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!

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.

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