If you are a driver of a nitro powered drag racing machine, you could rightly be called sons or daughters of thunder. These awesome ten thousand horsepower machines literally shake the world like thunder when the driver steps on the throttle…get a good grip on your bottle…you may stagger or wobble…some may need to wear a goggle…forget about Aristotle…or a beautiful blond model…look around and allow God for your mind to boggle.
Thunder and lightning can be scary to some folks. I know dogs don’t like to experience a thunder storm as it rocks their world with their sensitive ears while not understanding what thunder is. Thunder can be explosive and painful to human ears. Thunder happens after a lightning strike. The definition of thunder: A resounding noise produced by the explosive expansion of air heated by a lightning discharge.
Wow, an explosive expansion of air: Sounds like nitro drag racing to me. I believe that’s exactly what happens inside of a combustion chamber of an internal combustion engine when the spark plugs ignite the nitromethane! A lightning storm of ferocious energy within the engine becomes like thunder and with tremendous power propels the machine to stunning speeds.
If you desire to become Sons of Thunder, imagine being tightly strapped inside one of these missiles and ten thousand horses are ready to stampede down the track? The sound is overwhelming. The power is real, raw, and raring to go. Your view is limited. Your heart is thumping. Your perspiration is dripping. Ads in the seventies in California mentioned being in the seat of a nitro powered hot rod ready to rumble, “What in the hell am I doing in here!”
In 1991 when RFC asked me if I wanted to be the IHBA Series chaplain, I needed a Christian friend to assist me. John Guzman, who worked with me, said he’d go with me to the drag boat races—Jesus’ disciples went out in pairs—so it was James and John. In the Bible Jesus gave His disciples James and John the name “Boanerges” which means the Sons of Thunder!
Two ordinary guys being obedient to the call of God sharing the Good News with some boat racers. As a couple of new evangelists in the world of drag boat racing, God risked His reputation sending us out as He knew it might be a tough assignment (and it was on many occasions), but it was a viable place for us to simply share God’s love with those we came in contact with at every race: Disciples dispatched to develop God’s domain.
Did God really send you out to be a minister at the races, and how do you know He would be with you? Phillip Brooks said it best in a letter to some friends. “He is here. He knows me and I know Him. It is no figure of speech. It is the realest thing in the world, and every day makes it realer. And one wonders with delight what it will grow to as the years go on.”
Those eighteen years as the IHBA Series chaplain were awe-inspiring. “When God gives you a vision it will change your life” (Bob Gass), it did. “The future belongs to those who see the possibilities before they become obvious” (John Sculley), it was. “Vision paints the target, lights the fire within you, and draws you forward” (Bob Gass), it happened. A spiritual disruption…may be an introduction…for godly instruction…displaying God’s eternal production.
In the book of Esther in the Bible, Esther’s disruptive calling and eternal vision meant putting her life on the line. Saving the Jewish people from extinction in the midst of a heinous plan was her calling, and her choice to make: It’s either me, or me and all of them.
Sons of Thunder in the world of drag racing put their life on the line every time they step on the loud pedal and blast down the track. Sons of Thunder in the spiritual realm have to step up their game as they put their eternal hope in the grace of almighty God. “Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes see,” (Ken Owen).
We humans were born with the ability to help change someone’s life—God’s thunderous applause—but please don’t ever waste that ability! As parents we get to shape the lives of our children. As leaders we help shape the lives of others. As teachers we help educate people who will hopefully changes others’ lives. In racing, a crew chief has the ability to change the set up or tune up to keep their thundering monster machine as safe as possible on the track.
The explosive action and thunder of nitro burning machines is a show like no other. You gotta see the show…the nitro will flow…with flames that glow…its dynamo. A.W. Tozer once said, “In the midst of our lives, and in between the two great mountain peaks of God’s acts in the world, we look back and remember, and we look forward and hope.”
To a Son of Thunder, drag racing is everything that’s good and pleasing, as they step out of this screwed-up world for a few seconds of pleasure. No racing on earth can compare to stepping on the throttle of a ten thousand horsepower machine, and nothing in the universe can compare to stepping into heaven one day…a peaceful place to play…in eternity we will stay!
A good driver can paint an excellent picture of what happens during a run. A good follower of Christ can explain some facts of creation and the glory of Paradise. A good teacher can even educate what heaven will not have: No pain, death, tears, darkness, and no more distressing demons. Don’t miss the picturesque signs and basic lessons God paints for all of us.
The difference between winning and losing a race can be a thousandth of a second—mere inches—so please friends, don’t lose your eternal race and miss heaven by eighteen inches (heart to brain distance). You must be in the correct physical environment to win a race, and you must be in the correct spiritual environment to garner a spot in Paradise…so get your slice…as God’s grace showers you with heavenly rice…and God’s love will always suffice.
At the 1993 IHBA Finals at Firebird Lake, Ron Braaksma ran 223 mph in a rain storm. Looking east that stormy afternoon was a big double rainbow in the sky. Photographer Gil Rebilas took pictures of the boats speeding across the water with the double rainbow right over the boat photos. As was Gil’s way of doing business, he printed photos to sell of boats beneath the rainbows, but the boat images were small because he wanted to capture God’s double rainbow. Unfortunately, not many of the racers wanted the once in a lifetime photo because the boat image was small since the rainbows were the highlight of the stunning photos!
The odds of having your boat or whatever in the same photo with a beautiful double rainbow is slim, but what better way to capture God’s promise of never flooding the world again with your boat inside His promise in a scenic photo! Those pictures declared “Look up, your redemption draws near,” (Luke 21:28). Anyone still have one of these photos?
When God draws near you, He may interrupt your ordinary day to show you something extraordinary. The Bible is full of life’s disruptions, like Mary, the mother of Jesus going about her day when she hears, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you,” (Luke 1:28). Whether you’re Sons of Thunder, or in a thunder storm, you’re still “highly favored?”
Let’s not be so focused on our own program—life, family, racing, work—we fail to recognize God’s presence in our own backyard. When my life was disrupted by the closing of the company I worked at for twenty seven years, my career was interrupted by the expectation of what God had planned for me to become. “A Son of Thunder” wasn’t on my chart…but His ultimate dart…got me off to a worthy start…and I became part…of obeying God’s heart.
If we’re to become Bible based Sons of Thunder, “I mature as a Christian, I understood that joy in Jesus comes when we realize He is the source of all true joy. Joy in Him is eternal, rather than a temporary emotion influenced by circumstances.” (Ava M. Pennington). Being called Sons of Thunder is a gift from God; His way of sharing His treasures with me as I try to pass along the gift. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:21).
As a racer or a Son of Thunder, you must be willing to count the cost to reach the next level with your given opportunity. You must be willing to start slow…then as you begin to grow…it may take some of your dough…to be in the show…at times you may feel you still owe…but you will know…when the starting light says go…the rpm’s are high not low…it’s time to set the world aglow…cause you won’t win only running the status quo…so trust God with all things and eventually on you a crown He’ll bestow.