|Flags wave in the breeze above the NASCAR haulers at Pocono, August 1, 2014.|
Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs
If you watched opening ceremonies for Sunday’s race, you heard Sonoma Raceway track minister Tim Boeve give the invocation. Lots of times the pre-race prayer requests protection for competitors and fans, but this one focused on thanking God for specific blessings. Pastor Boeve thanked God for friends and family, for the chance to be entertained by the race, for our country and for those who serve on its behalf.
Recognizing our nation and the courageous folks serving in our military is a NASCAR tradition. As race fans, we value the Stars and Stripes and respect that for which it stands: “... one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” 1
Even though we’re still one nation, the rest of what our flag stands for is crumbling. Under God? Over the years, His name has been slowly removed from our culture. Indivisible? Forces are at work to divide us, now more than ever. With liberty and justice for all? Our freedoms are fading, and the protections of authentic justice are waning.
If you’re like many race fans, you may be wrestling with how you feel about the changes in our country. It seems like we’re heading off-track faster than stock cars in Turn 7 at Sonoma. It’s overwhelming and confusing for us regular, patriotic citizens.
As Independence Day approaches, here are a couple of things we race fans can do for our country.
First, the end of Pastor Boeve's invocation contained a call to action, as he closed the prayer with this petition:
“Help us to be like You, oh God, passing along all that is good, true and beautiful to others. Amen.”
So, one way to respond to our country’s predicament is to treat its people with love and kindness by focusing on good, truth and beauty. This is where being a follower of God is crucial. Why? Because we need His discernment in order to differentiate between God’s truth and the world’s vacillating versions of it.
A second idea for supporting our nation comes from the Bible story of King Jehoshaphat. Overpowered by three armies coming against him at once, the king knew exactly what to do. He prayed, crying out to God for help in his country’s distress. As they marched into battle, the king sent men ahead of the army chanting a song of thankfulness to God, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever” (2 Chronicles 20:21b).
Praying and praising doesn’t sound like much of a battle plan, but it was successful. God turned the invading armies against each other, and they annihilated themselves instead of harming King Jehoshaphat’s people.
Those of us who aren’t in positions of power can still work on our country's behalf. We can pass along good, truth and beauty to those around us, and we can pray.
Our nation’s birthday cake has 239 candles this year. As we figuratively blow out the candles together, let’s skip the birthday wish and say a prayer instead. Wishes are wimpy, but prayer is powerful.
When we pray with humble, repentant hearts, God‘s own heart is moved. Imagine what could happen if NASCAR fans across the country got on their knees and stormed heaven’s gates with prayers for America.
... if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
1 Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. (4 USC Sec. 4)
“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.