Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Faith on the Frontstretch: Bad Brakes and Bumpers Come Between Friends

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew dealt with brake problems during the July 11, 2015 race at Kentucky.
Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images     
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”     ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Bad brakes led to an on-track tiff between Danica Patrick and her former boss, Dale Earnhardt Jr., last weekend. Earnhardt struggled with brake issues throughout the 400-mile race at the bumpy Kentucky track. At one point he couldn’t slow down, even after pushing the brake pedal to the floor repeatedly, and got into the back of the No. 10, sending her into the wall.

Patrick launched a profanity-laced tirade over her team radio, then questioned why a guy without brakes didn’t choose a different line. She retaliated by jostling the No. 88 from behind on pit road, and he returned the favor with a smack to the left front.

Like many drivers who are friends behind the scenes, Patrick and Earnhardt let things get ugly when they clashed on four wheels. The pressure cooker of a fast-paced misunderstanding led to the “F” word flying on both radios -- it wasn’t the word friend.

In post-race comments, Earnhardt voiced frustration about Patrick's striking back on pit road, yet had empathy for her point of view.

“... it’s hard not to do that if you’re in her shoes. But it makes me mad because I didn’t have any brakes. I didn’t do that on purpose,” he said.

One friend wrecks another. That friend second-guesses the other’s motives. Friendship can be a messy undertaking, can’t it?

But Earnhardt expressed faith in their bond.

“She will chill out. It happens to all of us. I’m not too worried about it,” he said. “I got a pretty good friend, so I think we’ll be able to talk it out.”

Having good friends is one of the richest blessings in life. God designed us to live in community, in relationships with other people, not alone like hermits. Today’s technology-laced daily life makes it easy to avoid in-person, face time with friends. But we need the fellowship of good friends -- with a hug or handshake or pat on the back -- for a happy, healthy life.

What makes a good friend?

Good friends build each other up, instead of being critical and judgmental. Friends don’t ignore each other’s faults or mistakes, but if they chide each other, it’s in a spirit of love and acceptance. A good buddy wants you to become the “best you” possible, but will love you even when you mess up along the way.

A friend gives you the benefit of the doubt, even when it seems like you did something hurtful on purpose. When misunderstandings happen, good friends apologize and forgive each other.

Another thing that helps keeps friendship going is shared values and similar thinking. That’s why it’s important for believers to have close friends who share their faith.

Even Jesus sought out friends when He walked the earth. He chose a group of 12 companions, and three of them became His besties. 

Are you pursuing friendships? We all need’em.

If looking for a friend without faults, you’re not likely to find him among us humans. But there is a guy out there who’s a perfect pal: Jesus.

Jesus won’t spin you out or curse you out. He’s totally trustworthy and always there to listen. Best of all, He will stick by you clear through eternity. If you don’t know Him yet, turn to Jesus. He’s seeking your friendship today.

A friend loves at all times ... ~ Proverbs 17:17a
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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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