As I sat by the river bank waiting for our family to join us for a picnic and celebration, I wondered if we see things for what they are. When we go through experiences in life are our eyes wide open. Maybe it takes looking back to see the reality of the moment?  Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I was thinking back to the opportunity I had to bring someone to a NASCAR race for the first time. Not just a NASCAR race but any race. I had the pleasure of bringing my friend, Jean Daniel Antoine, GoGo, to his first race. GoGo is from Haiti; he is a survivor; he survived the earthquake in Haiti by jumping out a second story window just before the building collapsed. He brings a different perspective to the life we live. He puts racing into focus.

GoGo didn’t know who anybody was; their reputation and past accomplishments meant nothing to him. He could have been standing beside Richard Petty or the track custodian, he didn’t know. But he treated everyone like they were the most important person there. Living through the things he has endured in Haiti helped him see things from another perspective. He lives life differently than we do. Because he has lost so much, he cherishes every moment. Listen as he shares his experience.

Gogo shared; “If you asked me about racing, I would have never thought it was that much fun. I am a crazy Haitian who drives the mountains of Haiti on dirt roads with no guard rails, that’s fun and dangerous. Attending my first ever race ignited a passion I never thought I had. I am thankful for one of my best friends, Mr. Don Rivers, for inviting me. I had a great time at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and can’t wait to go to another race.

“I knew nobody but was welcomed into the family with open arms and big smiles. I felt so welcomed by the driver’s and teams of the Whelen Modified Tour. I went to the Autograph Session for the Whelen Modified Tour and met every driver, got their card and made lots of friends. I had the opportunity to pray with some before the race, that was great. One driver became my best friend, #99, Jamie Tomaino, he is so much fun. He calls me the crazy Haitian driver. Jamie credited my prayer with helping him finish 10th, that was great also.

“I also went to a dinner and shared the same table with Darrell Waltrip. I had no idea who he was and how big of a racer he was. I learned when they introduced him, Wow. I was just having fun talking with him, that was great.

“Those two days were the ones I was waiting for; they were the best days in my life and I want more. I know from these simple seeds sown, the harvests will grow, grow and more, so that a dream can be followed. I can’t wait for the next time.”

Gogo helps us see with our eyes wide open. We need to take note of this and make every effort to appreciate the time we spend together. We need to leave no doubt in the minds of others that we love them and care about them. We must make the most of every opportunity because life is too short not to appreciate every moment. 

In the Gospel of John, chapter 21, we find the story of one who made some adjustments to his perspective. We read about Peter and his encounter with Jesus that restored his relationship with him. You see Peter was a fisherman and one day….

Matthew 4:18-20; As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. 

Peter began his relationship with Jesus that day and it grew until they were very close. So close in fact that Peter proclaimed his commitment to Christ this way. As Jesus explained to his disciples about his pending crucifixion…

John 13:36-3; Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! 

Peter said the words but when it came to the test he failed. He denied Christ three times just as Jesus said he would. As Peter heard the rooster crow he fell to his knees and wept bitterly. Peter had denied his relationship with Christ. But there is hope and Jesus represents that hope. 

Jesus came to restore our relationship with God. He comes willing to meet our spiritual and physical needs. In John 21 we read about a breakfast that took place on the beach. Jesus was there waiting and willing to accept and restore Peter. 

Peter didn’t waste any time getting there when he knew it was Jesus. His perspective was changed. The relationship was restored. Peter went on to live a life dedicated to serving God and yes, he did eventually lay down his life for the cause of Christ. So where does that leave us?

We need to have the right focus. We need to appreciate the things that are truly important, our relationship with God and our family. We need to look at each situation with our eyes wide open.

I think we can draw some guidance from a common source, our dogs. After all, dog spelled backward is God and dog is an acronym for Depend on God. Here are some things we can learn from dogs that will help us make the right adjustments;

• When a loved one comes home, run to greet them.

•            Never pass up the opportunity for a joy ride.

•            Never pretend to be something that you are not.

•            No matter how many times you are scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout, run     back and make friends.

•            Run, romp and play daily.

•            Stop and lie down in the grass under the shade of a tree.

•            Be Loyal.

•            When you are happy, dance around and shake your entire body.

•            Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

•            Most of all…when someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Seeing things as they are and having the right priorities in life makes all the difference. Jesus came with the purpose of restoring our relationship with God. It cost him his life. He didn’t consider that a price too heavy to pay and paid it.

We must ask ourselves the same question. Is it worth it?  Are we willing to make the necessary adjustments to demonstrate our love for others? Having an influence in the lives of others is a responsibility we are given by God. Let them know how much they matter by taking the steps to show them how much you love and care for them. 

Thanks, GoGo, for your genuine excitement for each day, it is an inspiration. Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support and donations helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.