Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Faith on the Frontstretch: Timing of Rain a Godsend for Edwards at Bristol?

Carl Edwards takes the checkers at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 16, 2014
Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

After his win at the rain-riddled Bristol race on Sunday, Carl Edwards is thrilled to have one foot in the Chase. He is also thankful both feet are solidly planted on the ground, after momentary qualms about landing his celebratory backflip on the slick frontstretch.

Edwards didn’t want to see the caution, accidental or not, come out with two to go. He said there might have been a “higher power” at work when the rain came at the same time the yellow light switched on, ending the race.

Team owner Jack Roush appreciated the one-two finish of Edwards and teammate Stenhouse Jr., attributing it to Ford’s preparedness, avoiding wrecks or parts failures and a little luck.

“You've got to stand in line and just wait for the racing gods to smile on you or to frown on you to see what you've got, but tonight we did have good fortune,” Roush said at the post-race press conference.

With St. Patrick’s Day dawning only a few hours after Edwards celebrated in Victory Lane, some might agree a wee bit of luck figured into his win. Or maybe he made a wish earlier in the day. Fans may remember the funny outtakes video showing Edwards giving high-speed rides to Ford engineers, when he spied the time on the car’s digital clock and said, “It’s 11:11, make a wish!”

Luck. Wishes. Racing gods. Good fortune. Do you believe in any of these?

Most adults don’t believe birthday candles can actually grant wishes or that 11:11 is a magical moment in time. We realize the concepts of racing gods, luck and wishes are as slippery as the frontstretch at Bristol on a rainy night.

But unlike grown-ups, young children are quite literal. They interpret the words they hear in concrete ways.

If Daddy says, “The Rocketman is on fire,” a child may visualize a man in a rocket ship engulfed in flames, when the truth is Ryan Newman’s car has fire under the hood.

A child who hears Biffle got the “Lucky Dog” may envision a fortunate puppy riding shotgun in the No. 16.

When Grandma says, “Blow out the candle, and make a wish,” kids trust her words.

How we talk about wishing and luck can inadvertently influence a child’s understanding of God.

If a child believes objects such as candles and clocks can grant wishes, how does that mesh with saying bedtime prayers? The child may wonder which is better: wishing on birthday candles or praying to God.

To dispel the confusion, we can explain to kids that wishing is like talking to thin air and there’s no such thing as luck or racing gods. But prayer is real because God is real. If we teach our kids to talk to the Creator of the universe, it helps give them a steady footing in their faith.

God, with a capital "G," is in charge of everything, including candles, clocks and even stock car races. Maybe Edwards is right, and God reached down and tickled the clouds, releasing the rain just as the accidental caution light came on in those last laps at Bristol. We’ll probably never know.

What we do know is that only God is all-knowing, all-powerful and able to work in our lives for good. All the luck and wishes in the world can’t hold a candle to His limitless power.

 ... your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.   ~ 1 Corinthians 2:5

Editor's Note: If you want to help your kids or grandkids learn about God's power and the difference between wishing and praying, check out Beth's book, A Wish and a Prayer.


“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Want more racing devotions? Donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for NASCAR fans.