Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Faith on the Frontstretch: Desert Race Brings Difficulties for Drivers

Dale Earnhardt Jr. after blowing a tire at Phoenix International Raceway, March 15, 2015.
Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images     
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1b

If you’re a Kevin Harvick fan, you probably love the revamped west coast swing so far. With back-to-back wins at Las Vegas and Phoenix and seven consecutive finishes in the top-two spots, Harvick and the No. 4 team are rolling faster than tumbleweeds in a sandstorm.

On the other hand, Sunday’s race left other drivers and fans high and dry in the desert. Tony Stewart was working his way to the top 10 when contact with the No. 51 sent him into the wall off Turn 4. The mended No. 14 car was tough to handle, and Stewart blew a tire and smacked the wall again, ending his day. Unfortunately, he ricocheted back into Sam Hornish Jr., who had to leave the track for repairs, but was able to finish the race.

Dale Jr. fans felt snakebit in Phoenix, too, after his right rear tire exploded, leaving the wheel engulfed in flames and ending his day. Brian Vickers also had a hard time, slamming the wall hard enough to break his front suspension, but he was able to complete the event after repairs.

Stewart, Hornish Jr., Vickers and Earnhardt Jr. finished 39th, 40th, 41st and 43rd, respectively.

Drivers don’t enjoy getting caught up in on-track scuffles, whether it’s with the wall or other drivers. But sometimes they learn something that benefits them the next time around.

As much as we detest them, difficulties in the race of life can change us for the better, too. There are countless ways trials can mold us, but let’s look at two of them.

Persevering through difficulties strengthens our faith. When we’re in a tailspin and cry out to God for help, we realize how dependent we are on Him. Each time He comforts us and carries us through the fire, it shores up our trust that He’s there for us. That trust is the key to having a strong faith.

Just like careening around the track provides more opportunities for accidents, the race of life rushes on and other problems pop up. Because our trust in God was strengthened in the last trial or two, we meet the next set of troubles with a heavy-duty, tested faith.

Bad times prepare us for helping others down the line. There’s stuff we learn at the back of the pack – lapped, dented and covered in Bear Bond – that we‘d never discern at the front. Troubled times leave us with wisdom and insights we can share to help others.

For instance, Denny Hamlin texts to talk shop with teammate Kyle Busch, who is recovering at home with both legs in casts. Hamlin, who sat out for a month in 2013 with a fractured vertebra, knows what it’s like to be sidelined while bones mend.

When you’ve “been there, done that,” you can support someone else during his or her tough time in the desert.

Difficulties will come in your race of life. With God’s help, you can meet them head on and use them for good -- to fortify your faith and to empathize with others in similar circumstances.

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT)
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“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.

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