Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Faith on the Frontstretch: A New NASCAR Season Comes Knocking

Matt Kenseth takes the checkers in the 2015 Sprint Unlimited at Daytona.
Credit: Patrick Smith / NASCAR via Getty Images  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Since February began, I’ve been checking the calendar, counting down the days like a kid looking forward to Christmas. As a new NASCAR season knocks on your door, do you feel the excitement?

The Sprint Unlimited, crash fest that it was, gave us a taste of the amped-up racing we might see on Sunday. To many drivers’ dismay, group qualifying for the 500 followed suit, resulting in a senseless loss of primary cars. Despite the damage to cars and added stress on the teams involved, time springs forward toward NASCAR's biggest race.

My race day strategy is simple: Come home from church, claim the big-screen TV, curl up on the couch with my afghan and immerse myself in the Daytona 500 pre-race show. The laundry and bills and writing assignments will be on hold, but a mug of my favorite brew -- hot tea -- will be within arm’s reach.

You probably have a race day plan, too, which is likely more exciting than mine. No matter where we watch -- at home, at a friend’s house or in the grandstands -- it’s a stretch of time we devote to fast cars, talented athletes and like-minded friends. Why? Because racing brings us joy.

The NASCAR naysayers think we’re wacky for spending four hours watching cars travel in circles. Poor souls, they’ve probably never felt the heart-skipping exhilaration of 43 engines rumbling through the TV speakers. The only thing better is being trackside, jumping to your feet as the field rounds Turn 4 coming to the green flag.

So starting with Daytona, I’ll spend four hours a week, give or take, watching the Cup race, not to mention extra time for the Xfinity or trucks series and writing about racing.

Four hours. That’s quite a spell spent in race gal mode. As I reflect on my priorities and schedule, a question pops into my mind: As a Jesus gal, do I spend four hours a week focusing on God?

OK, let’s do the math. Worship at my church lasts about an hour and a half. And I pray a lot throughout the day, read a daily devotion and other faith-filled books and go to Bible study every other week. Does that add up to four hours a week? Maybe. Maybe not.

Don’t get me wrong, I love racing and have no plans to give it up. But that four- or five-hour chunk of time ricochets in my head. I feel challenged and convicted to give as much of my time and my heart to God as I devote to a favorite pastime.

When the Victory Lane confetti is swept away, the racing high is over for the week. But fellowshipping with my Lord brings a deep, comforting joy that lingers throughout the day, all week long. Racing is fun, but the foundation of my life is my relationship with God.

A new NASCAR season hovers at the threshold, seeking to roar through our living rooms this week. Let’s enjoy the races, but also tune in our spiritual ears to hear Jesus as He seeks our time and attention. He won’t barge in uninvited. Instead, He taps politely and waits.

Listen. Do you hear Jesus knocking on the door of your heart?

“Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me.” ~ Revelation 3:20 (The Living Bible)

“Faith on the Frontstretch” explores the role of faith in motorsports and runs every 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the NASCAR season. Follow Beth 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.