In the drag racing world, and in all other forms of motorsports, we’re all very much concerned with driver safety. Motorsports in general, as we all know, has an inherent danger every time a driver powers down the track in their racing machine.
Crews, families, friends, sponsors, and fans gasp with almost paralyzing emotion when an on-track incident takes place…at any pace…danger is what racing drivers face…they wear safety equipment just in case…some look like they’re from outer space…when dressed up to race…safety is all about the appropriate gear, prayer, and God’s grace.
As a drag racing fan for over sixty years, I’ve witnessed crashes where protection systems failed, but over the years I’ve also observed the birth of safety devices implemented to reassure a driver that precautions have been put into place to make sure they’re safe.
There’s a lot of joy in drag racing, and sometimes I want to shout-out this is a remarkable sport, and hope everyone fully understands what it takes to compete. Time, money, effort, dedication, wisdom, and passion comprise the real formula to become a racer.
The Christmas Season (joy)—a few months ago—is a special time of year, overshadowed to a large degree by Easter (somber): Remember, Christmas is the promise, but Easter is the proof! If you’re not filled with the Spirit of Christmas, and don’t understanding what Christmas means, you’ve possibly been out of touch with the real world since you were an infant.
The Gospel of John contains the most often quoted, and probably best known verse in the Bible, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), by far the greatest reason for joy!
Speaking of Christmas, Christmas Carols emphatically convey the factual story of God’s Son coming to earth to be the Savior of the world, hence, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29). Research your favorite Christmas Carol(s) to discover the story of Christmas through some soul reaching lyrics.
I’m okay if the Christmas Season—and racing season—is carried-over all year long. Many people are finished with Christmas once the Christmas tree is taken down, all of the presents and decorations are put away, and they’re ready for the next holiday, but the Christmas Spirit should be a daily part of our everyday life during our stay on earth.
Every new racing season can be treated like a Christmas present: For the fans it’s the racing, for the racers its new teams, new team-members, new paint schemes, new sponsors, new safety gear, and new enthusiasm. Presents like a new blower, injector hat, or transmission may be found somewhere under a Christmas tree on December 25th.
At the February 2020 Warm-Up at Wild Horse Pass, I was ready to pray with good friend for the past twelve years Terry Ruckman who drives brother Tim’s Top Alcohol Funny Car…in eliminations they usually go far…in racing these guys can win the war…they don’t keep their passion in a jar…their faith you can’t mar…in God’s eyes these brothers are a shining star.
Glancing at the safety device around Terry’s neck that helps prevent injury in the event of an accident, and as usual, God, racing, and even Christmas music were on my mind. Terry was putting on his HANS® device, a “Head And Neck Support” unit that connects the driver’s helmet to this device secured around his neck to help prevent any head or neck injury. My mind was—as usual—thinking about the joy of the Lord, the joy of drag racing, the joy of being a chaplain with the opportunity to share the grace and love of God with so many people.
This joy of being at the racetrack—and with Terry—brought to mind some Christmas Carols, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “O Holy Night,” “Mary Did You Know,’ and “Joy to the World:” “Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King, let every heart prepare Him room.” And it goes on, and “Heaven And Nature Sing.”
This piece of safety equipment displaying the HANS® logo, sang out to me H.A.N.S. “Heaven And Nature Sing,” and I mentioned it to Terry as I prayed with him to have a good safe run, and the car tripped the timers at 5.53 seconds at 266.85 mph, a decent test run to start the season. BTW: This HANS® device has saved many lives over the years.
The joy of drag racing also makes others want to shout-out how awe-inspiring this sport is. But, as great as drag racing is, it doesn’t hold a candle to the “I bring you good news of great joy for all people,” (Luke 2:10), the true Gospel for everyone.
The New Testament book of Romans says “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse,” (Romans 1:20). This verse speaks of how extraordinary God and nature are, and we’re all without excuse to believe the Good News, which God gave us to live by and enjoy.
If we take a few honest minutes and look around at God’s creation, and realize there’s a Great Designer with a Master Plan for us to live-out. The implication is for everyone alive…look at an amazing bee hive…this Good News ain’t no jive…God wants us to thrive…He created us for enjoyment and to eternally survive.
Even before I became a believer and follower of Jesus Christ: H.A.N.S. was a part of my life: “Heaven And Nature Sang” to me from the tiniest blossom to the mighty Sequoia. From the fragrance of a rose to the smell of nitro, from the planting of a seed to the birth of a child, by observing the sun, moon, stars and the four seasons, I knew it wasn’t a big bang—explosion—theory that created this incredible world around us. The Creator whispered a clue…maybe a shout-out or two…simply saying check out the view…it’s for you!
In the summer of 1974 we attended a Jethro Tull concert in San Diego, CA. By the time we stepped out of the car at the arena parking lot, the asphalt appeared blue…in our car our friends were quite a few…we thought things looked good from our view…all thinking we were right on queue…glad we weren’t hauled off to the zoo.
At the end of the show a telephone was ringing center stage, front-man Ian Anderson walked out, answered the phone, and then looking up at the audience said those endearing words “It’s for you.” We recognized it was for us.
Likewise, when a driver steps on the throttle, they’re saying “It’s for you.” They want to put on a show on the racetrack because they know what it takes to bring in paying patrons.
Jesus knew what it took to save mankind: Nailed to a torturous wooden cross; His crucifixion exclaimed “It’s for you!” This wasn’t entertainment; it was a self sacrificing exhibit of love and salvation showing how much he loved you and me…as He hung on that tree…for the entire world to see…He thankfully paid the entire fee…so we could have the final victory.
The HANS® device will always be a big part of the safety gear drivers wear to safely compete. We’re all thankful when a driver walks away from a horrendous crash and is able to resume enjoying life. Deep within their heart the words “Joy to the world, the Lord is come” and my heart thanks Him for providing the needed safety gear that saved my neck…in a wreck…I escaped with a full deck…I recognized the gift saying oh heck—it was a present from God.
“Heaven And Nature Sing” is when two fast machines scream down the track. “Heaven And Nature Sing” is when a man and a woman get married. “Heaven And Nature Sing” is when a precious baby is born. “Heaven And Nature Sing” is when someone puts their trust in Jesus Christ. “Heaven And Nature Sing” is the Gospel being shared with others. “Heaven And Nature Sing” is when a Christian graduates from earth to heaven!
“Heaven And Nature Sing” for your benefit. “Heaven And Nature Sing” for peace on earth. “Heaven And Nature Sing” for your eternal safety. “Heaven And Nature Sing” the truth. “Heaven And Nature Sing” as you’ve escaped the devils prong…so you can enjoy a chocolate ding dong…play a game of ping pong…our final years seem short not long…recognize the Gospel is right not wrong …Jesus says you don’t have to wait for Christmas to have a new song!
By Jim Jack