Sunday, May 29, 2016

Obligatory Memorial Day weekend devotional thoughts on how faith is like & unlike the Indy 500

Growing up in central Indiana, just 45 minutes east of Indianapolis, the Indy 500 was always a big deal. The whole month of May was, and still is, race month.

While on Memorial Day weekend we always gave proper due to the remembrance of those who served and died in battle, when the race was on, so were our radios.

This year was the first year ever the race was not “blacked out” for TV viewing. We only got to watch it hours after it was over. So we listened to it on our little transistor radios at the church picnic. Oh yes, the Memorial Day church picnics were a big deal, too.

In the Bible, depending on the version you use, “race” in the sense of racing is used about 6 or 7 times: Psalm 19:5, Ecclesiastes 9:11, Jeremiah 12:5, Nahum 2:4, 1 Corinthians 9:24, 2 Timothy 4:7, and Hebrews 12:1. If you know of others, please share them in the comments.

Probably the better known are Paul’s references:
  • “Do you not know that in a, race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24, ESV).
     
  • “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
So, comparing faith to the Indy race is not entirely outside of reason. And there are comparisons to be had.

Endurance: Indy drivers do a lot of strength training. Their steering is, as I understand, not power-assisted. Maintaining control of the steering and the car requires raw physical strength. In addition, they endure heat, dehydration, and a lot of vibration for all the hours they’re on the track.

“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy” (Colossians 1:11, ESV).

Engagement: Going around and around a giant oval track can, I’m assuming, become a little monotonous, especially when fatigue sets in. Drivers must keep their heads in the race at all times, paying attention to track conditions, listening to instructions from their pit crews, and being aware of all the cars around them.

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13, ESV).

Encouraging: Okay, maybe I’m pushing it a bit with the alliteration, but... Veteran drivers and retired drivers encourage and offer guidance and advice to the rookies. Sure, there’s competition, but there’s also respect. During the race, the good drivers give leeway to the faster drivers, allowing them to pass safely.  While each wants to be the winner, they also want all the drivers to complete the race and do so safely.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:1. ESV).

Dependent: (Ha! A non-“e” word!) While the driver who wins gets the trophy and the spotlight, they don’t get there on their own. There is a huge team of people behind their success. The more obvious are the pit crews who risk their wellbeing to ensure their driver is fueled and equipped to stay in the race. Everyone depends on everyone else doing their part to be successful.

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many” (1 Corinthians 12:14, ESV).

These are just four positive comparisons that can be made between the Indy 500 and Christian faith. I’m sure you can think of several more.

But it’s also important to point out one major difference. As with any earthly race, there will be only one winner of the 500. For those of us running the spiritual race, there are many runners and, hopefully, all will make it over the finish line.

For the race of faith, the goal is to help our fellow racers to succeed. And for all who do, there will be plenty of trophies to go around.

Let’s go!



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How are you doing in your faith race? Are you keeping up? Helping others endure with encouragement? What tips can you offer to help your fellow believers stay engaged? What other comparisons can you make between the 500 (or any race) and the Christian faith? Please sound off in the comments!

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