Saturday, May 31, 2014

Praying For NASCAR At The Rock

Our family used to live just outside of Rockingham, North Carolina.  As some of you may know, that used to be big NASCAR country.  They had a couple of races there each year as thousands upon thousands of fans came to our community for some great racing.  It was a big deal.

It just so happened that I knew a guy, who knew a guy, who worked for NASCAR.  Much to my surprise, I was asked to do the opening prayer at a race one weekend.  Yeah, a NASCAR race!  In front of thousands of people on live television. 

I showed up early, met my friend, picked up my pass, and was escorted down to where all the drivers, cars, and pits were.  It was a thrill for me to see guys up close and personal that I had watched on television for years.  I specifically remember they had me stand beside Mark Martin.  I didn't say anything to him because I was so nervous.

The time came for the prayer.  The television and NASCAR guys were handing me a microphone and giving me the countdown on when to pray.  Then, my name was called out over the intercom, guys were told to remove their hats, and heads were asked to be bowed.  The television guy pointed at me, and off I went into my prayer.  I thanked God for the thrill of competition and I asked Him to protect all the drivers and their crew members.  Then I asked God to help all of us fans to show good sportsmanship towards one another throughout the day.

When I finished my prayer with "Amen", I heard cheers from all over the stadium.  Specifically, I noticed this row of guys sitting by the finish line lifting up their beers and yelling, "Woo Hoo!  Amen, Preacher!"  I had to laugh.  Those boys were just having a good ole time, and the race hadn't even started yet.

I was glad that everything went so well.  It felt good to pray at such a large event and ask for God's blessings on that sea of people.  It was a cool experience that I'll always remember.

The main thing that went through my mind was this:  The prayer was not about impressing NASCAR or all of those fans.  Sure, they did matter.  I'd be lying if I said that didn't register with me.  But what was most important was just talking with God and encouraging others to do the same.

Whether we're praying

or teaching

or singing

or serving

or leading

or doing anything else in the form of ministry,

let's always remember to ultimately do it for God's approval rather than man's applause.

It's ok to receive compliments and encouragement.  We sometimes need that.  But let's not make that our main focus.  More than anything else, let's just serve God because we love Him and we want to be His hands and feet in this amazing world He created.

Thanks, NASCAR, for the awesome experience!  I had a blast.  And go Dale Earnhardt Jr.!

But most of all, thank you, God, for letting me play a small role in your awesome work in this world.  Serving you is the best honor anyone can have.  And I pray for more opportunities to serve you in any way you see fit.

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