Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Faith on the Frontstretch: Every Driver Matters, Every Race Counts

Kyle Larson challenges the leaders at Chicagolang, Sept. 14, 2014.
Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

For the first time in series history, the Chase has an elimination format, with three cut-offs in which four drivers are dismissed from championship eligibility. But unlike other major sports, the journey to crown a NASCAR champion still has a unique feature: Drivers who drop out of contention still get to race each week.

In fact, a full field of 43 drivers keeps racing each week, with every non-Chaser vying for the checkered flag, too, even though he or she isn’t eligible for the championship.

This is great news for the folks in firesuits. It means that even drivers and teams who aren’t in the Chase play a part in the choreography of each race. Every driver matters. And every race counts.

Kyle Larson certainly mattered at Chicago on Sunday. Although Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon finished at the front, there was another battle behind them. Rookie Kyle Larson gave Kevin Harvick a run for his money as they battled for third.

“The 42 was better than us,” Harvick said in a post-race interview when asked about the hard racing with Larson. “He passed us the run before and was able to get track position and restart on the bottom.”

On the closing restarts, Harvick was forced into what he called “defensive mode” against Larson. Even though he wasn’t chasing a championship, Larson challenged a veteran who was and snapped up a third-place finish.

In a race, there’s only one winner, so everyone else plays lesser roles and receives tiered rewards. But the winner can’t run a race alone; the competitors are essential. After it’s over, you can look back and see what role each driver played. Larson led 20 laps and challenged the leaders. Jamie McMurray led three times for 32 laps and logged a top-10 finish. Runner-up Jeff Gordon kept Keselowski on his toes.

Real life mimics racing. Lots of people -- with different goals, diverse abilities and colorful backgrounds -- scurry around “doing their thing” at the same time. But for the body of believers in God, each person runs a unique line, pursuing tasks appointed exclusively to him or her.

You may think you’re unimportant at work or in other situations, and that others have better talents and loftier roles in life. But that’s not true. The Bible illustrates this point in 1 Corinthians 12:16-17 using an analogy of the human body:

If the ear says “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear?

Both ears and eyes are important for proper functioning of the body, and they have different roles. It’s silly for ears and eyes to be jealous of each other. Likewise, it’s foolish for us to be envious or competitive with each other. The beauty of the body of humanity is its variety of useful parts.

Just like in NASCAR, where every driver matters and every race counts, you matter to God. He has special things for you to do in every nook and cranny of life – home, work, play, church, hobbies, and more. Have you thought about what your God-given purposes might be?

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.    ~ I Corinthians 12:12 (NLT)

“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.