Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Faith on the Frontstretch: Listening to Your Crew Chief's Advice

Matt Kenseth pulls into Victory Lane at Pocono Raceway, Aug. 2, 2015.
Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”     ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Fuel-mileage racing is an exercise in self-restraint for most NASCAR drivers. Whether they’re going easy on the brakes, lifting off the throttle early into the corners, shutting off the engine and coasting – or some other secret strategy – purposely slowing the car is against everything they’re trained to do.

Matt Kenseth, who won by saving fuel this weekend at Pocono, talked about how difficult it is was to hold himself back in the last laps of the race. He said he repeatedly asked crew chief Jason Ratcliff if he could stop saving fuel. But to his displeasure, he heard Ratcliff’s voice in his ear telling him, 'No,' over and over.

“I kept waiting for him to give me the green light ... I really wanted to pick up the pace and he was telling me there was no reason to, and he was absolutely right. But what we do every week is try to go as fast as we can, so to try to slow down and make sure we're gonna have enough fuel is hard,” Kenseth said. “That's hard, to not go as fast as you can in the last five or six laps. It's tough to discipline yourself to do that.”

Understandably, anything less than full-throttle, hammer-down racing takes considerable self-discipline for guys and gals who want to win races.

Kenseth wanted to go fast. But he did a fine job of doing what he didn’t want to do by listening to Ratcliff and continuing to save fuel. And his self-discipline paid big dividends in a trip to Victory Lane.

In the race of life, there are lots of times we know what we should do and what's the right thing to do, but we do something wrong anyway. It’s just part of the human condition, a constant tug-of-war inside our wills.

Cartoons often depict this internal struggle by showing a goofy-looking character with two little guys sitting on his shoulders – one guy dressed in white with a halo, the other a red guy with horns. The little guys take turns whispering in the character’s ears, trying to convince him to do what’s right ... or wrong. The cartoon seems comical, but our struggle against sin in our lives is real, and it’s not funny.

The apostle, Paul, described it this way in Romans 7:15-16 (TLB):
 I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking.

No matter how much we want to do what’s morally right, we can’t do it in our own strength. We need God’s help to have the self-discipline to make good choices. Just as Kenseth listened to the wise advice coming over his radio and followed it, we can tune in to God’s voice and tap into His strength for help.

Where can you find God’s voice? He speaks to you through the Bible. Why not read a few verses or a chapter today?

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.    ~ Psalm 119:133

“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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