Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Faith on the Frontstretch: Sitting on the Chase Bubble Looking for Success

Jeff Gordon at Pocono Raceway, July 31, 2015.
Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs  

“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Being one of the Chase "bubble” drivers isn’t much fun for Jeff Gordon. After losing three Chase spots in the past two weeks, Gordon is understandably frustrated. He just wants to win a race and secure his spot in the Chase, but it didn’t happen Sunday at Michigan, where he finished 17th.

“Our day didn’t end the way I was hoping. We were able to hover around the top 12, which I was extremely happy with. Unfortunately that is not where we ended up. Just couldn’t get going on the restarts, which is no surprise. It happens to us every weekend,” he said.

Even though he’s winless so far in 2015 – which has happened only four seasons in his 24 years in the Cup series -- Gordon has racked up three poles and a dozen top-10 finishes. But for a four-time champ, those stats don’t cut it. He wants to pick up a few more good finishes or a win in the next few races to clinch a Chase spot.

“We can’t be finishing 30th and 40th,” Gordon said before the Michigan race. “It’s not like we have to win. We want to win and we’re working hard to do that, but we know that top 10s are plenty good enough. But there are no guarantees in this sport. And even if you have a car that’s capable of finishing in the top 10, it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to finish there. So, right now, we’re just trying to get some positive momentum and good things going for us.”

If the Chase began today, Gordon’s current 13th-place standing would mean he’s in. But if he doesn’t earn his way into the Chase, will he be less of a success? Is he losing a chance at more success because he’s retiring?

That depends on how you measure success. If you measure it in race wins, then yeah, he’s giving something up. But one of the reasons Gordon is trading his helmet for a broadcaster’s microphone is to spend more time with the family he loves. So if you gauge success in terms of how often he’ll get to tuck in his children at bedtime, he’ll be more accomplished than ever before.

Our tendency is to measure success by race wins or the square footage of our houses or the digits in our salaries. But as human beings, we’re deeper than that. Please don’t buy into that shallow, worldly way of valuation.

Your real success isn’t based on a stack of stuff or accumulated achievements. According to God’s gauge, success is measured by how well you love. Jesus said the most important mandates in life are loving God and loving others.

If you feel like you’re “on the bubble,” hovering between success and failure in some aspect of your life, take heart, my friend. Even if that bubble pops, and what you’re hoping for doesn’t happen, you can still be a winner in God’s eyes. Though race wins and other worldly accomplishments are nice, they aren't what truly define you.

Love does.

How much love you give is what matters. When you leave this life and slip into eternity, your trophies or mutual funds or diploma may or may not be remembered. But the love you showed to others will remain, lingering in their hearts.

Love is not only a God-given gift, it is the best measure of a successful person. Love makes you a winner. Let love bubble up from within your soul and seep into everything you do.

Who can you show God’s love today?

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”   ~ Matthew 22:37-39
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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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