Summary: A well-lived life requires teamwork, preparation, endurance and focus.
Starting Well—The Race of Life:
Racing, Dale Earnhardt once said, is life. Well, Earnhardt actually had it backward. Life is a race. Racing to work, racing home, racing to some type of sports practice, racing to recreational activities, racing to church. Racing here there and yonder. Life is always filled with excitement, twists and turns, spills and thrills, and yes, the occasional blow-out. You never know what’s going to happen next. Even when there’s nothing going on really, we’re just making laps, that’s like a race, too. Yeah, in NASCAR, the drivers may go for laps and laps and laps with no cautions, no red flags, just running around in circles. Who among us hasn’t felt like we were running around in circles at times? All of us. We wonder, “Will I ever make it to the finish line?” Or, “Am I running well?” Or, “Why did I have such a bad start?”
Every racer knows that the key to winning is starting well, running well, staying out of trouble, and being around at the end to finish strong. This sermon series is designed to help us accomplish all those things so we can look expectantly toward the finish line of life. One key to a good race is starting well. That’s what we want to talk about today as we get ready to take the green flag in the race of life.
NASCAR started in the 1950’s when a bunch a moon-shiners tried to out-do one another as they souped up their cars to make them go faster than the police who were chasing them. A guy by the name of Bill France came up with the idea of getting these guys to start racing one another to see whose car was fastest. He set up a sanctioning body to govern the competition, and thus NASCSR was born. The sport has grown tremendously
It's those stately geese I find especially impressive. Winging their way to a warmer climate, they often cover thousands of miles before reaching their destination. Have you ever studied why they fly as they do? It is fascinating to read what has been discovered about their flight pattern as well as their in-flight habits. Four come to mind.
1. Those in front rotate their leadership. When one lead goose gets tired, it changes places with one in the wing of the V-formation and another flies point.
2. By flying as they do, the members of the flock create an upward air current for one another. Each flap of the wings literally creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. One author states that by flying in a V-formation, the whole flock gets 71 percent greater flying range than if each goose flew on its own.
3. When one goose gets sick or wounded, two fall out of formation with it and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with the struggler until it's able to fly again.
4. The geese in the rear of the formation are the ones who do the honking. I suppose it's their way of announcing that they're following and that all is well. For sure, the repeated honks encourage those in front to stay at it. As I think about all this, one lesson stands out above all others: it is the natural instinct of geese to work together. Whether it's rotating, flapping, helping, or simply honking, the flock is in it together...which enables them to accomplish what they set out to do.
Chuck Swindoll, letter, October, 1991.
Preparation is about priorities. Knowing what’s important before the race begins. To prepare for the next race, the teams look at all the data from the previous races, especially any races they have run at the particular track they are running at today. What were the previous lap times? How did we run here last time? They know what equipment they will need, and have it loaded on trailers before they ever leave the race shop. They carry a back-up car in case their primary car should crash out. They have several engines, transmissions, and various and sundry automotive parts hoping against hope that they will never need them. But they are prepared for any situation that arises.
The writer to the Hebrews gives us advice about how to prepare for the race of life. He says to lay aside every weight. The type of weight the author is talking about here is not necessarily bad or evil. It is anything that diverts our attention from the task at hand. But then he adds, “especially the sin that so easily ensnares us.” Sin will always divert our attention from the main thing. Unfortunately, sin can become the priority in our lives. It can consume us, overwhelm us, and eventually overtake us. Sin will destroy our lives, our families, our careers. We must deal with the sin in our lives to run the race of life well. In preparation for the race we have to get our priorities in order.