Faith on the Frontstretch: A Rain Delay, a Fake Snake and the Final Checkered Flag

Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrates in the rain on pit road at Phoenix International Raceway, Nov. 15, 2015.
Credit: Jonathan Ferry / Getty Images  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Sunday’s winner at Phoenix was a fan favorite – non-Chaser Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- although the event itself was anything but favored. Rain-soaked at both the beginning and the end, the day was full of twists and turns, which ultimately decided the four Chasers who will vie for a championship next weekend.

Earnhardt Jr. claimed victory in the soggy race, not as the checkers flew, but as he sat at the front of the field on pit road, with raindrops pelting his roof. Just like most people’s everyday race of life, his day was a mix – the good, the bad and a dash of goofy.

The “good” was getting a victory, but it was also the qualifying spot that led to the perfect pit stall.

“You know, we had a really good qualifying effort,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We struggled all year in qualifying, and that was really the difference maker for us today. It gave us this awesome pit stall that was just right next to the start‑finish line.”

When he was one of the first cars to pit under green, a yellow flag came out and the pit stall came into play, allowing him to cross the finish line ahead of the field and be scored as the new leader.

The “bad” element of the day was obvious -- the rain -- which muddled things from start to finish.

The “goofy” was a faux rattlesnake coiled up in the No. 88 cockpit before the race. Earnhardt Jr. said the No. 22 team pulled the fake-snake-on-the-seat prank, but one of his crew members disposed of the rubber reptile before he could be scared by it.

Despite the rain and the rubber snake, the race ended well for Earnhardt Jr. with NASCAR calling the race quickly after the rain began, since radar showed continued precipitation over the track.

The Phoenix race had a clear-cut ending. The rain came, and it was over. But in the real race of life, the ending is a mystery. No one knows when his or her checkered flag will wave. We feel safe sitting in our cockpits of life, secured by seatbelts and safety nets -- our nice homes with security systems, our bank accounts and IRAs and health insurance. But this world is unsafe and unsecure, with no guarantees that we will see tomorrow.

When your race of life ends, worldly trophies will be as meaningless as fake rattlesnakes. There is only one thing that will matter when you cross the finish line: whether or not you know Jesus Christ as your Savior.
The checkered flag flies at Phoenix, Nov. 14, 2015.
Credit: Robert Laberge / NASCAR via Getty Images

Like the end of any race, once the checkered flag flies, it’s over. Death is final, friends. If you’re not sure where you’ll go when you leave this world, it can be terrifying. But when you know Jesus, that fear is gone. If you accept Jesus into your heart, will you still worry about the possible bad stuff leading up to your death, like sickness or pain? Of course – it’s only human to have anxiety about the unknown. But if you know Jesus, you can face what comes after death with peace, knowing your soul will take a trip to the ultimate Victory Lane – heaven.

The Chase is winding down and soon we’ll see the final checkered flag of the season. What if the end of your race of life is almost here, too? You might see it coming, like Dale Jr.’s win under rainy skies. Or your life could end without warning, and you’d cross the finish line in a split second.

Are you ready for your final checkered flag?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16 (NKJV)

“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.
Faith on the Frontstretch: A Rain Delay, a Fake Snake and the Final Checkered Flag Faith on the Frontstretch: A Rain Delay, a Fake Snake and the Final Checkered Flag Reviewed by Beth Reinke on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 Rating: 5