Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Faith on the Frontstretch: Driver Introductions and the Truck Bed of Your Heart

Danica Patrick & Carl Edwards ride around the Monster Mile during driver introductions, Spring 2014.  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Have you ever ridden around the track with a NASCAR driver during pre-race introductions? It’s probably the little kid in me, but I think that would be fun. Drivers smile, taking in the colorful spectacle of race day as they wave to admiring fans. Perhaps they enjoy a one-lap chat with a competitor or teammate, standing shoulder to shoulder in the bed of a shiny, freshly washed pickup truck.

As I carried my palm frond out of church on Sunday, the mental image of Jesus entering Jerusalem reminded me of the drivers riding in pickup trucks. On the original Palm Sunday, Jesus made a ride of His own as He was introduced to cheering crowds. There was nothing flashy about His ride though. Instead of a lively jaunt around a paved oval in a borrowed truck, He clomped down narrow streets astride a borrowed donkey.

Imagine the excitement as thousands of people lined the city streets. People probably milled about, elbowing their way closer to get a glimpse of their promised King. But only those closest to the street saw the donkey’s fuzzy face through the throng. Most spectators were probably fortunate to see the top of Jesus’ head as He passed by, although those on rooftops may have secured a better view.

The Bible says the fans of Jesus waved palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is the king!” It was a noisy, joyful celebration. Who knows, the crowds may have been louder than the din of stock car engines and rowdy race fans.

So ... after church, I hightailed it home, hoping I hadn’t missed opening ceremonies of the Martinsville race. I grabbed my purse from the car seat and dashed inside to turn on the TV. At church, I’d experienced a beautiful worship service. Palm Sunday is all about celebrating Jesus, right? Yet my heart rushed away from Jesus to the race.   

The next day I fetched my palm leaf from where it had slipped down between the car seats. In my haste, I’d forgotten to take it into the house after church. I laid it gently on the dining room table, but it was dried out and too brittle to fold into a cross like I had planned. In my hurry to watch the race, I allowed the palm leaf to wither and lost the opportunity to create a new cross.

Across the living room, I spied last year’s palm leaf cross peeking out of a pottery vase. I pulled it out and smiled. The palm was still sturdy, reminding me that Jesus is always there -- steady, true and still loving me -- even when I rush past Him to focus on something else.

Despite the many times I’ve failed, I long to introduce Jesus to others who may not yet know Him in my day-to-day interactions. But I can only do that if I’m constantly mindful of His presence. I imagine Him riding around in the truck bed of my heart, waving and smiling, loving others through me.

Now we’re in an off-week for NASCAR so that drivers and fans can spend Easter with their families. Amidst the colored eggs and chocolate bunnies, will you join me in focusing on Easter’s eternal promise?

Jesus, the son of God, willingly gave Himself to a horrible death in our places, so you and I could be set free from the evil of sin. Then our Savior rose from the grave, and we’ll see Him again in heaven. That, my friends and fellow Jesus fans, is something to celebrate.

Happy Easter!

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”   ~ John 12:13a (NIV)
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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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