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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Off to the Races!

The other night good friends of ours invited us to the local speedway for a night out. My husband had warned me before of the toothless hillbillies, but I didn’t spot any. However, I did see a swatch of America—from young to old, families and friends and yes, a few good old boys, though my friend spotted a toothless guy. Anyway,I enjoyed myself more than expected— earsplitting engines racing around a dirt track, the smells of summer floated in the air: hotdogs, fried dough, and sausage and peppers, while green, yellow and checkered flags whipped through the air. Modified cars that reminded me of expensive, supped up go carts revved their engines, sped around the track and skidded through turns kicking up a dust bowl like a bunch of wild ponies. While the thin layer of dirt that settled on my white hat and purse were not my favorite remains, a kind of thrill remained in its griminess. I guess the whole atmosphere is what these men and a fourteen year old girl love.

I loved the feeling of summertime, warm nights and riding without doors on my husband’s jeep—the feeling of freedom. I expected the race car drivers experience that same kind of freedom and thrill. I couldn’t help but think of the analogy the apostle Paul made in Corinthians 9 about the athlete who competes in a sport. He does it to win the prize. As Christians we too are in a race, but are we training for it? Are we giving God our best effort, while trusting in Him? These guys put a whole lot of time, energy and money into their cars and they raced with all their might, technical skill and guts—that’s what made it so fun to watch. While your eyes chased around the track with them, the question of who would win danced in your head.

The winner at the end of the night was not who I expected. As we filed out of the track and watched the champion racer slowly climb out of his car, an older gentleman emerged. It surprised me. He still had the fortitude to do that and not crash? Then I realized how much he represented the Christian life. God has many promises of victory for us, even when we may tire of the race. “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired” (Isaiah 40:31 NASB). How can that be true?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been tired lately as the end of the school year draws near and the kids are restless for summer vacation, but as I rest and wait upon the Lord, He gives me new strength for each day. Just like the driver knew how to handle the racetrack, God gives us wisdom how to handle the course we’re on when we rely on Him. The older driver had experience in his favor. As Christians we can have the experience of the saints who ran the race before us. We can study their lives and learn from them, just like the young drivers I’m sure learn from the more seasoned ones.

The heroes of the Bible had God’s wisdom, and we can too if we ask for it. “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds…” (Luke 11:10). We can have the understanding we need to navigate our course when we seek it. We might not like the particular one we’re on, but God can get us around those tricky turns every time we lean into Him. Are we training in such a way to win or just make it through? God wants us all to be winners in Him. We might not look like winners to the world, yet in God’s eyes we are standing in the winner’s circle when we ride with Him. It doesn’t matter if we’re young or old, fast or slow, pretty or not. With Jesus in the driver’s seat, we’ve already won the race!