Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Faith on the Frontstretch: Making It Through a Pit Road Fire

Austin Dillon's car caught fire during the race at Talladega, May 3, 2015.
Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images      
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Pit road has been hotter than usual lately, with fires breaking out during races for the past two weekends. At Talladega, flames erupted around Ryan Newman’s car as the gasman tried to put in the second can of fuel. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

The previous week at Richmond, a more serious fire occurred during the Xfinity race when a spark ignited spilled fuel around Brendan Gaughan’s car. The flames morphed into a giant fireball, catching the gasman and rear tire changer in the flames. A crew member from the adjacent pit stall was also injured, but according to the latest reports, all three will recover.

The crewmen came through the fire, but not unscathed. With singed hair, red skin and scorch marks on their firesuits, the fire left its damaging evidence. Their helmets, fire-retardant suits and gloves provided some decent protection, but depending on its rating, each firesuit only protects a person from a certain temperature for a specified number of seconds.

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is about guys in a fire without firesuits. A long time ago, the king of Babylon punished people who wouldn’t worship his golden statue by throwing them in a fiery furnace. The three young men wouldn’t bow to the golden idol, because they worshiped only God, and King Nebuchadnezzar was pretty ticked off about it. He heated the furnace to seven times hotter than usual, so it was probably way above the 1,800 to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit of a gasoline fire.

Now what these three guys lacked in protective clothing, they made up for in faith. They told the king something like this: “Our God is powerful enough to deliver us from the fire, but even if He chooses not to, we’ll only worship Him, not your bogus golden idol.”

The furnace fire was so intense that the soldiers who tossed in the prisoners were killed by the heat. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego should have died instantly, too, their bodies consumed by the searing flames. And yet, the king watched in amazement as they not only survived, but walked around in the fire, along with a fourth person: Jesus!

The flabbergasted king called them out of the furnace, and here’s what onlookers observed:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. (Daniel 3: 26b-27, NIV)

You probably gasped when the fireballs erupted during pit stops and held your breath until they were extinguished, right? And you were far away, only watching on TV. Imagine the astonishment of spectators, who were close enough to actually feel the fire’s heat, when these guys strolled out of the inferno – unscathed!

Even King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the miracle and praised God for saving the men. God is more powerful than anything, even fire.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were willing to run their races of life God’s way, even if it meant death by fire. I pray for that kind of unfaltering faith to do the right thing, no matter what.

Our lives can heat up pretty quickly, just like that flaming furnace. Without warning, situations can explode in an instant, like a spark igniting a splash of gasoline. When pit road fires break out during my race of life, I’m grateful Jesus will be right there by my side. Do you have that same assurance?

“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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