NASCAR

Hebrews 10:23

I’m not one of those avid NASCAR fans. I’ve never watched an entire race because I get bored with all the circles, but occasionally I enjoyed watching part of a race. I suspect that most of the other viewers are waiting for the same thing I’m waiting for – a crash. We’re not sadists, though. We hope everything turns out alright and the drivers are safe, but there is a certain thrill in seeing a car spin out at 185 mph, then get smacked by another car, sending both vehicles wildly skidding and banging against whatever objects may be in the path. Excitement, fear, and awe are all wrapped up in six seconds of chaos, and it takes our breath away. Seeing this unfold on television is one thing; being in the driver’s seat is quite another.

As a teen, I worked on a dairy. One winter night there was a heavy snow, and I received word that my boss’s farm had suffered damage. The snow had piled high on his milking barn, and it had collapsed. My brother and I were to join other men of the church in a day of clearing the debris and getting the barn functional again so he could get his cows in to milk. We were on the trip out to Harlan’s farm, and the roads were mostly cleared. On one bridge, however, there was a patch of black ice, and I didn’t see it until it was too late. The car spun twice as I grunted the only two words that came to mind; “Hang on!” We slammed against the guard rail and into the ditch. After a minute of catching my breath, I asked my brother, “Are you okay?” He said he was, so I got out to inspect the damage. There was a perfect imprint of the guardrail along the passenger side of the car, but everything was functional. We managed to get out of the ditch and drive on the our destination, then home again. I kept wondering how I would explain to my mother that I had almost killed her baby son.

She didn’t scream. In fact, she was fairly calm as she informed me she was taking my driver’s license away for six months. The truth is that was my second wreck in six months, so that seemed a reasonable consequence to her. The wreck was not my fault, but I had to admit the previous wreck was. In that event, I was driving with my buddy Jay and I missed a tight curve. I jumped my 1966 Oldsmobile over a culvert, like they do in the movies. All I could say was “Hang on!” He ended up in the floorboard, but he said he was okay. I kept wondering how I would explain to Dr. and Mrs. Eckert that I almost killed their middle son. Oddly enough, Jay was the one who drove me to school for the next six months of my driving suspension. That’s a true friend.

I was wreck free for the next thirty years, but history has a way of repeating itself. My son and I have a long-standing tradition of taking one day in the spring, skipping work and school, and taking in a Texas Rangers’ afternoon baseball game. It’s quality male-bonding time. A few years ago, we set the date and headed to the ballpark in Arlington. All was well until about the third inning when a downpour started. Eventually, the game was rained out, so we headed home. We were driving down I-35 in driving rain. I was holding my speed down to 60 mph because of the conditions. Just as we were inside the Waco city limits, the pickup started to hydroplane. I tried to correct the skid, but the truck suddenly spun the other direction. There’s something odd that happens in a moment like that. Everything seems to be moving in slow motion. I watched as we were headed toward a light pole, then spun the other way. I said the only words that came to mind; “Hang on!” My only thought was how I would explain to my wife that I had killed her baby son. As we spun around, we eventually were facing oncoming traffic. The car that had been following us was now in front of us. It had slowed down some, I imagine, but we still hit. Our truck spun another 180 degrees and came to rest on the side of the road. I asked my son if he was okay, and he said he was. It’s hard to explain to someone how I had a head-on collision going backwards at 60 mph, but that’s what happened.

The song says, “Life is a highway,” and sometimes that’s how it feels. We are going through our daily routine, and something happens. Suddenly, we are spinning wildly out of control at the mercy of our circumstances. Every correction we try seems to only make the situation worse. Catastrophe is unfolding before our eyes in slow motion, and we fear the worst. I don’t have profound insight for situations like that, but the writer of Hebrews said, “Let us hold fast…” I think that’s probably Bible-speak for “Hang on!” Sometimes, that’s all you can do. It won’t last forever, and you will most likely survive.

 

Published in: on April 16, 2019 at 9:37 am  Leave a Comment  

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