While bringing the church service message at the Homestead Speedway on October 22nd prior to the NASCAR race, it struck me how appropriate it was to “bring God to the track.” For openers, as believers we have a defined start/finish line. He determined our arrival, and only He knows the “qualifying time” towards our finish line here on earth. Downshifting and accelerating are an integral part of both the vehicle and the spiritual race. It is imperative to have a competent crew, our “cloud of witnesses,” as we traverse through the deafening noise of society on our way to eternal peace. The Apostle Paul in his letters encourages us on how to run the race, finish well and take the trophy.
Cars racing to the finish
These are both dangerous practices. Thus, in order to stay safe and successfully finish, extreme protection measures must be put in place to avoid crashing and not finishing the circuit. I am not a professional driver but a “professional” sinner and with certainty can attest that the human race is much more menacing than an auto race. Again, Paul instructs us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood but rather against spiritual forces of evil from the heavenly realms” – a formidable adversary indeed. As the pilot of a land vehicle is furnished with a slew of safety equipment, we are graced with the Armor of God to ensure an unscathed finish as described in Ephesians 6.
Recently, as we meandered around the speedway, we were able to inspect the equipment nestled within these “rocket ships.” We first noticed the intricate safety harness and restraint system, which keeps the driver tightly bound to the seat. Ephesians 6:14 reminds us to “keep the belt of truth buckled around our waist,” for we are promised to get jostled around by everyday life. No NASCAR driver would even start his engine without first strapping in, yet many of them do not wear a belt outside the circuit. Without truth we have no compass and will just follow the crowd, thus we must spiritually buckle up first thing in the morning. If we are not safely nuzzled by His Word, we can not only get ejected but also rejected.
Just as pivotal are the fire-resistant suits these guys wear. Accordingly, “donning the breastplate of righteousness” applies to us. While the racers have to hurry to pit for fuel and tires, Satan is looking to sidetrack us so we can join him in the “pit of hell,” thus the holy fire resistant breastplate. The evil one wants to pierce us, so we are vulnerable to temptation. We must stand firm and fight the fire. None of us would want our worst enemy to reside in hell for eternity; it is that ghastly. I find a clear revelation of hell in Revelation 9:6 where the fifth angel sounds his trumpet and locusts come down upon the earth to sting men for five months. Finally, “men will seek death but will not find it,” a frightful description of the place.
Then there are the fire resistant and heat shielded shoes used in competition. We are cautioned to “have our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace.” We should be ready when the world holds our feet to the fire by responding with our personal testimony and sharing the gospel. Hearing and doing the Word of God not only keeps us in our lane but also gives us room to walk away from sin. And how about those massive steel roll cages that surround the driver? God has given us a “holy firewall” by providing us “the shield of faith which extinguishes the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Just as race car drivers must have faith in the equipment and crew, our faith in the Lord is sufficient. Our roll cage is made of holy rock, the strongest substance known to his followers. The psalmist reminds us that “God is my rock, my refuge, my shield and my salvation.” The devil’s darts are meant to puncture our godly armor, to produce doubt in us. We must proceed with confidence and faith in Him; what a wonderful roll cage we have in Jesus; he has our back, our front, our sides.
Racing 101 discusses the driver’s head protection just as the Armor of God reminds us that the biggest spiritual battles occur in the brain. Today’s helmets not only afford safety but are likewise equipped with communication equipment to keep drivers in constant touch with the crew chief. When we “take the helmet of salvation,” are we in constant communication with Jesus, our holy crew chief? Do we follow His advice as to when to turn, when to speed up or slow down, when to stop and when to restart the race? And most of all, “do we know, that we know, that we know” that we are saved because we have accepted Him as our Savior and thus have been awarded the helmet of salvation? Because the price has been paid in full, we can now hold our heads high and give thanks to our Redeemer.
A strong offense
So far we have been playing defense. But in order to win the race, we must get going. Besides the engine, these guys rely mostly on aggressive shifting and steering to “get a move on,” which also serves as a defensive mechanism to avoid other drivers during the mayhem. In Ephesians 9:17 we are instructed to “take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” His Word is extremely offensive to many folks in our society and yet we are told to share it. Could it be that many of those who don’t wish to hear Him are afraid of the consequences of knowing Him? Are we as afraid to share it as much as they are to hear it? How intentional are we in cutting through the fabric of the world, so they will open their ears to Jesus?
Doing life in the fast lane is what this sport is all about. As the Armor of God is finally revealed to us, Paul’s final exhortation is to pray… and why not, fast. Inside the track yesterday we witnessed the fast and the furious; our witnessing begins with prayer and fasting as brothers and sisters in Christ in order “to obtain the crown that will last forever.” The only way to get the inside track is the daily protection of the Armor of God. Drivers, start your engines!!!
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