Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Faith on the Frontstretch: Beating and Banging in the Top Five

The four JGR cars lead the race at Richmond, Sept. 12, 2015.
Credit: Jonathan Moore / Getty Images  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Although Matt Kenseth dominated Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond, he wasn’t the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver having a good night. For a stretch of mid-race laps, all four JGR cars ran at the front -- 1, 2, 3, 4. Although any team owner delights in his entries leading the pack, that type of teammate-against-teammate competition intensifies his stress, too.

“I think that's when I'm always the most nervous, when you got your cars up front and having a good night,” Joe Gibbs said, in his post-race press conference. “Tonight I saw them up there. I saw some beating and banging there.”

That beating and banging occurred when Kenseth and Carl Edwards swapped paint several times as they battled for position. No harm done though, as neither car was significantly damaged, and the drivers seemed good-natured about the hard racing, according to Gibbs.

“Our guys, though, I think they all handled it the right way. I know Matt came over the mic there and said his situation there with Carl, he kind of straightened that out, so I thought that was good. It was a thrill seeing ourselves up there.”

Can it get any better for Gibbs than his four cars leading a race? It sure can! Coming out of Richmond, all four of JGR’s teams will compete in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Although he’s excited about the possibilities, the team owner is a bit on edge, too.

“It's been a lot of hard work, but I'm thrilled where we are,” Gibbs said. “Now the problem is, I think for the next three weeks I'll be ready to throw up at any minute. That's the bottom line.”

Although Gibbs’ comment probably made you chuckle, it rings true. Sometimes the best things in life, as wonderful as they are, can also cause physical and emotional anxiety. If you’ve ever made a big presentation at work or hustled through an airport to catch a vacation flight, you may be familiar with that “I might throw up” feeling. Or if those things don’t bother you, perhaps planning a wedding or making a speech make you feel queasy, even though they’re both positive undertakings.

What can we do to ease anxieties that beat and bang on us in the Chase races of life? Two things come to mind.

Get alone with God. Jesus liked to retreat to a secluded place before or after demanding situations. After feeding the 5,000, He went up into the hills alone to pray (Matthew 14:23.) Before going to the cross, He prayed through the night (Matthew 26:36.)

Find a quiet place to pour out your concerns in preparation for a stressful situation. Even though He already knows what you’re up against, God doesn’t mind hearing about it. Likewise, after you’ve faced a challenge, sitting in God’s presence can refresh and restore your spirit.

Give it to God. Hand over all the stuff you’re afraid you can’t handle. Ask Him to walk beside you and carry your burden. If you find yourself worrying, give it back to Him yet again. God can subdue the beating and banging of anxieties – or even the “I might throw up” feeling -- as you move forward together.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

“Faith on the Frontstretch” explores the role of faith in motorsports and runs every 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month during 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.