Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Faith on the Frontstretch: Things That Go Bump on the Track

The No. 20 car of Matt Kenseth at Phoenix Nov. 2016
Matt Kenseth on pit road after wrecking in the final laps at Phoenix, Nov. 13, 2016.
Credit: Robert Laberge / Getty Images  
by Beth Reinke

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

When my son was a preschooler, he loved the speed bumps in our grocery store parking lot. He’d grin and shout, “Big bump!” each time a speed bump jostled him in his car seat as the front and rear tires kaploomped over it.

On the other hand, things that go bump on the race track rarely end in anyone grinning or enjoying the ride. At Phoenix last weekend, one particular bump ended in disaster for championship contender Matt Kenseth.

As Kenseth led the race during an overtime restart, spotter Chris Osborne told him he was clear of Alex Bowman, who was on the inside going into the corner. But things change in a split second in NASCAR, and may look different depending what angle your view gives you. So Kenseth really hadn’t cleared Bowman’s car, and ended up getting bumped and turned into the outside wall.

That single on-track bump ended Kenseth’s Chase hopes. He went from leading in the final laps to an out-of-the-Chase 21st-place finish. Understandably, he was bummed.

“It’s really disappointing that we don’t get to go to Homestead and race for a championship, but the guys did everything perfect today,” Kenseth said. “It’s the best car I’ve had at Phoenix — probably ever. They had good pit stops today, and we were competitive. We all as a group did the job that we needed to do to be in position to win that thing. It’s unfortunate the way it worked out.”

Things happen to all of us that are “really disappointing” and “unfortunate” — to use Kenseth’s words.

What do we do when we’ve experienced life’s bumps and have trouble recovering? It seems counterintuitive, but it helps to be grateful. Gratitude — a purposeful thankfulness for our blessings, however small they may seem — revives our faith and builds our trust in God.

Prayer and thankfulness bring peace and trust. The Living Bible describes it simply in Philippians 4:6-7:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.

When worry churns in your heart, take in a slow, deep breath and then blow out the fretful feelings. Focus your thoughts on the Lord and pray instead. Thank God for the good stuff. If anxious thoughts try to creep back in, keep praying and expressing your gratitude. Soon you’ll feel God’s peace infusing your heart and quieting your mind.

You don’t have to grin or shout, “Big bump!” when life knocks you around. But the supernatural peace that comes from trusting God — even during life’s bumpy rides — just might make you smile.

May we pray together? Dear God, we’re so grateful that you’re bigger than any “bumps” we come up against in the race of life. Thank you that we can pray at any moment of the day or night, and you’ll always be there to listen. Help us remember to thank you for our blessings, not just at Thanksgiving, but every day. Please send us your peace, which we so desperately need. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  ~Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
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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? Check out Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for NASCAR fans. You can purchase the book in paperback & ebook here.


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