Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Faith on the Frontstretch: Navigating the Storms in NASCAR and Life

Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”   ~ Hebrews 12:1b

It’s been a rough couple of weeks in NASCAR. As we approach the Chase, it should be a time of excitement and anticipation. Instead, like a leaky hose gushing oil, tragedy has drained much of the joy from the racing community.

It’s difficult for many fans to gear up for race day knowing the family of Kevin Ward Jr. is grieving after the dirt track accident that claimed his life. At the same time, many fans are also concerned about Tony Stewart, who is grief-stricken because his car struck and killed the 20-year-old.

In the same week, Sherry Pollex, longtime girlfriend of Martin Truex Jr., shared the news that she has ovarian cancer. Then, unbelievably, 21-year-old Amanda Gambacorto lost her life after she crashed her three-quarter midget car during a driving clinic at Wall Stadium Speedway in New Jersey.

So much sadness. If we haven’t been through a similar situation, we can’t know exactly what the families who lost children in those racing accidents are feeling. We can only vaguely imagine what Stewart is going through or what Pollex is facing.

But some people can empathize. Maybe you do know the feeling of being swallowed up by grief, as it pulls you under again and again. Perhaps you’ve felt the grip of throat-closing fear as test results are revealed. When those things happen, and we’re buffeted by out-of-control circumstances and tilting emotions, we’re desperate for someone to make it better. We need someone to calm the storm.

You know who whips storms into submission? Jesus. Maybe you know the stories.

The disciples were caught in a storm at sea, according to Mark 4:35-41. As waves crashed over the boat, it was filling with water and the men were terrified. They woke Jesus, who was sleeping in the stern, and He calmed the storm with three words: “Quiet! Be still!”

Another time, the disciples were at out at night, without Jesus, when wind and waves began to rock their boat. Amidst the gales, Jesus walked across the rolling whitecaps to join them. When Peter asked to walk on water, too, Jesus made it possible. Then Peter noticed the wind, got scared and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” Peter cried, and Jesus grabbed his hand and pulled him up. (Matthew 14:22-33)

Perhaps you can relate to the disciples’ fear and Peter’s panic. When powerful forces, like the ocean, injustice, disease or death come against us, we can’t stand alone.

But if we cry out to Him, Jesus comes into our storm to stand with us.

The chorus of a song titled “Oceans” (Hillsong United) speaks of keeping our eyes on Jesus, even when the waves keep rising. He is the only path to peace in our personal storms.

Let’s join hands, as NASCAR Nation, and pray for the racing folks — the Ward, Stewart, Gambacorto and Pollex/Truex families — as they navigate through rough seas. Lord, please hold them close as they grapple with everything that’s happened. Calm their hearts and heal their pain, as only You can. Amen.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” ~ Matthew 14:27
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“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Follow on twitter at @bbreinke.

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 NASCAR fans. Or you can purchase the book in paperback & ebook here.

4 comments :

  1. This is your best article ever. I hope it brings comfort to all of those who read it.

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  2. I'd like to suggest to all of Tony's fans that they wait to see the result of the investigation. Hopefully Tony will be held not responsible but if he is then the sheep will have to look within as manslaughter charges face their hero. My opinion is that they have no concern for the victim.

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  3. Thank you for posting this, Beth. It is so timely. My heart has been breaking for the Wards, for Tony, for Sherry and Martin and their families, and now for Amanda's family, because I KNOW it hurts so deeply...so deeply you can't even breathe. This summer we lost my dad unexpectedly, then three family friends, all but one unexpected. It has seemed like the storm just keeps going and going, the wind just keeps blowing. But, as you said, "Jesus comes into our storm to stand with us." And every little reminder is a HUGE blessing! Praying for all of these families, and thank you for letting God speak through you.

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  4. Please do not take thatas Tony fans we do not have concern for the victim. Many Tony fans pray for ALL parties in this horrific terrible accident . As a parent of a kart racer (who is full grown man around the same age as Kevin) My son knows he has to take responsibility for his actions,words,and his anger when things happen on the track good or bad. He was taught from the get go that you do not get out of your car till safety people get there. If you do you do so you do it at your own risk. I totally understand The wards anger at Tony ( I personally would not be able to watch the videos objectively for a long time if ever) It is way easier to blame Tony than face the fact that Kevin bears some responsibility for what happened. I pray one day that they will be able to see that objectively but know it may not come anytime soon if ever. Tony is a victim too. He has to live with this for the rest of his life. I am sure he relives it all the time . All we can do is pray for ALL parties and their family and friends. This has changed everyone . Prayers and finding Peace is all any of us can do.

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