Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Faith on the Frontstretch: Getting Moved by the Bump-and-Run

Alex Tagliani in the No. 29 truck leads the field at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Aug. 30, 2015.
Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images    
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”   ~ Hebrews 12:1b

The bump-and-run isn’t a new move. It’s been around since race cars have sported bumpers. The tactic is one colorful thread in the fabric of on-track action, just like a pit stop or the checkered flag.

Is one car moving another out of the way a good thing? That depends whether you’re on the giving end or the receiving end.

The most recent victim of the classic move was Alex Tagliani, as he led the last lap in the Xfinity race at Mid-Ohio. Regan Smith pushed Tagliani to the outside in the last corner of the road course and slid by him for the win.

Tagliani, who finished second and felt he’d raced Smith clean all day, was not happy about the bump-and-run strategy and said he didn’t respect Smith’s win. Ironically, Smith hadn’t liked being bumped and spun by Ty Dillon during the prior week’s race at Watkins Glen, and showed his displeasure by initiating a post-race scuffle.

So Dillon moved Smith in one race, then Smith moved Tagliani to win the next one. Would Tagliani continue the cycle by putting his bumper to someone else?

Nope. He took the high road this past weekend during the truck race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Although Tagliani battled Erik Jones for the lead in the closing laps, he didn’t move him out of the way. Jones won, and Tagliani slid back to a fifth-place finish after losing a gear in the final seconds.

When someone moves you in racing, it’s usually a bad thing. But in your spiritual life, being “moved” can be a positive thing.

This Sunday I was moved during a worship service at a church full of strangers.

Since it was my first time there, I took a seat near the back. A guy dressed in gym shorts and a t-shirt strolled up and down the aisles speaking to people. When he stopped and introduced himself as the pastor and shook my hand, I couldn’t help but smile. How often do you see a barefoot pastor?

After we sang and prayed, the pastor climbed into a makeshift baptismal font that resembled a hot tub and preached his sermon, standing waist deep in water. It turned out a lady was getting baptized by immersion, going completely under the water, in what’s called “believer’s baptism.”

The woman talked about how much she loved Jesus, and how her baptism was a public declaration, then the pastor dipped her under the water. She came up grinning, with her hands raised in praise, and everyone clapped and cheered.

As the music played, the pastor asked if anyone else wanted to get baptized. All was still for a moment, then a man inched his way forward and got baptized, too. Then a teenage girl walked up, then another one. Soon the worship leader laid his guitar aside and got in line.

One by one, people went forward, each of them moved by God’s spirit. No one had a change of clothes, so they huddled together, dripping wet, sharing the towels offered by the pastor’s helpers. Someone even pulled down the white linens draped over the tall, wooden cross to help people dry off.

There was a lot of moving going on in that church service, all of it good. People were moved by God, as they answered the call to baptism. Watching the stirring scene unfold, I was moved, too. By the time the water stilled, 30 people had been baptized!

When God’s Spirit moves people, it’s not a bump-and-run gesture. He doesn’t smack into you and then leave you in His dust. Instead, He dwells in your heart, moves you to action, then holds you close and guides you.

You may have heard God’s Spirit called the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost. He is part of our triune God: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Spirit. Sound confusing? Don’t worry; it’s a bit befuddling to everyone. It’s difficult to wrap our human minds around God, let alone that He has three persons, yet is still only one God. We won’t fully understand it this side of heaven.

The important thing is this: The Holy Spirit is a gift given to every person who accepts Jesus as Savior. When we listen, He moves us to pray, to love and even to get baptized.

In my race of life, I want to be moved by God’s Spirit. How about you?

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.    ~ John 14:26 (NLT)
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“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.

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