Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Faith on the Frontstretch: Opening Ceremonies – Refreshment Before the Excitement

Flyover at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 3, 2013
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs  
 “ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

No one stays still for long at a NASCAR race. Hours before the green flag flies, the garage is a hub of activity as cars go through last-minute once-overs before being pushed to the starting grid. Pit boxes magically arise along pit road and crew members dash to and fro carting tires and gas cans. Over-the-wall guys double check their tools and stretch to warm up their muscles.

By race time, fans in the stands are ready to roll, too. Favorite driver cap? Check. Extra sunscreen? Got it. Coolers of cold drinks? You bet. Only one thing remains before the pace car leads the field onto the track.

Opening ceremonies.

As each race begins, the opening ceremonies provide a moment of “refreshment before the excitement” for drivers, crews and fans.

It’s my favorite part of race day. I love the final laps of racing, of course, but there is something special about that beginning segment. I’ve watched it from the sofa. I’ve seen it from high in the grandstands in sweltering heat, with the underbellies of planes overhead seeming close enough to touch. I’ve stood among crew members, as the invocation and anthem echoed down pit road, savoring every second of the experience.

From almost any vantage point, time seems to stop during opening ceremonies. It’s the one moment on race day when everything comes to a halt. A hush falls over the crowd as folks remove their hats. Except for camera crews and photographers zooming in and out, everyone is calm and still. It’s like the expectant pause between taking a deep breath --- and blowing out the birthday candles.

We bow to pray as a single voice speaks for all of us, requesting God’s protection and blessing. We honor our country and military with the National Anthem. We gaze heavenward for the flyover.

Opening ceremonies set the tone for the race. The prayer and song help us focus our minds and hearts. It helps us be ready when the command to start engines rings out.

The principle of “refreshment before the excitement” isn’t just for races. It works in day-to-day life, too.

Having your own little opening ceremony is a great way to begin your day. Perhaps you could read a devotion when you wake up. Or thank God for another day and ask him for protection and blessing. You could say grace over your breakfast and then read scripture alone or with your family.

However you do it, spending time with God sets the tone for your day. It helps you focus your mind and heart and be ready for whatever the day holds.

In this new year, I want to intentionally focus on God and refresh my soul before the day’s excitement begins. My goal is to pray and listen for God’s guidance. How about you? What kind of opening ceremonies would you like to begin?

Be still, and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 46:10a
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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.

2 comments :

I have always admired NASCAR as it is the only competitive event that consistently honors the basis of faith, country, and family in the USA. Nicely done article...

What a slap in the face to those who admire the National Anthem at the Nationwide Nascar opening. I have never heard it sung so poorly. Who ever picked this group should have their head examined! GLT

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