Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Faith on the Frontstretch: A Lobster and a Lampstand in Victory Lane

Matt Kenseth celebrates his New Hampshire win, July 17, 2016.
Credit: Chris Trotman / Getty Images  
by Beth Reinke

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

When a NASCAR driver wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, part of his prize is a giant, live lobster. Most drivers have a little fun with the lobster, as winner Matt Kenseth did, placing the crustacean on the hood of his No. 20 Toyota during his Victory Lane celebration.

Kenseth, who was joined in Victory Lane by his wife, Katie, and their three daughters, started the day 18th, then went on to snag his 38th career Cup win.

“You’re always pleased to be in Victory Lane, but the further down the road you get, the better they feel, for sure,” Kenseth said. “Thanks to everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing. You know, I’ve said it a million times, but the Lord has really blessed me with the opportunity to be over here, the great people I get to work with ...”

While many a Loudon winner has shared the spotlight with a saltwater shellfish, Kenseth placed his personal faith on a lampstand, too. When he thanked God in a TV interview, Kenseth was being “salt and light” to millions of viewers.

What does that phrase — salt and light — really mean? In Matthew 5, Jesus said His followers should be the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” They seem like two vastly different substances. You can feel salt grains on your tongue and taste their savory flavor. You can’t hold onto light, but you can see its brightness and use it to illuminate shadowy places.

Despite their differences, both salt and light are vital. Think what the world would be like without them. For one thing, we’d all be dead. The parts of table salt, sodium and chloride, are electrolytes found in our bodies; they’re essential for life. Light is pretty indispensable, too. Plants need light to grow, and people need the oxygen and nutrients plants provide, so light is crucial to life on planet earth.

On the practical side, salt does two things to food: preserves it and flavors it.

In biblical times, folks didn’t have refrigerators, so salt was used to slowly change the meat into a form that couldn’t be spoiled by bacteria. If we stay “salty,” our actions and words can help preserve society, as we try to live in a way that’s unspoiled by corrupt ways.

As a flavoring, salt is different than other spices. It not only has its own distinct tang, but it can enhance other herbs and spices. Salt brings out the best in other flavors and makes everything taste better.

And light? What a wonderful thing it is. Just a spark of light brings clarity and hope anywhere there’s darkness. The life-giving light of Jesus can multiply when it reflects from Him to you to others.

So, how can you share your saltiness and shine your light into the world?

You can be an encourager. When you say or do something that edifies a friend, it brings out the best in her. You can tell the truth and put in a hard day’s work. You can do something positive — love people, feed the hungry, comfort those who are sick or in mourning.

Everyone doesn’t get to give God the glory via a Victory Lane interview. But we can all shine our light from whatever lampstand we’ve been given. Go ahead. Share a little salt and light today.

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.   ~ Matthew 5:13-16 (NRSV)
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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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