Last week was a difficult week with the sudden passing of my friend AJ Vogel. AJ served Thompson Speedway and NASCAR as an official having his hand in the training and development of many of the safety workers and inspectors. His presence will be missed. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Not only did we lose AJ but we also celebrated the life of Maynard Troyer up in Rochester last weekend. Couple that with Father’s Day, I lost my dad in 1975 and this has given me cause to reflect on the significance of the life we live.

AJ was bigger than life. You always knew when he was in the room. He enjoyed having fun, getting you to smile and laugh. His greatest gift was helping us not to be too serious. That is not to say he wasn’t safety minded. He was one of the best at making sure everything was being done for the safety of others. When it came down to being unsafe, he drew a line and didn’t cross it. He understood the challenges but helped others understand safety wasn’t something to compromise on.

Maynard Troyer was motivated to be the best, the one every one chased. He always strived to be ahead of the curve, developing the next big thing. But it wasn’t as much being on top but to have people chasing and pushing him. He would move on if there wasn’t someone trying to out think him.

He did many more things in life besides Modifieds but let’s just rest here for a moment. Think about what it takes in life to be known by one name, Troyer. We all know what a Troyer is. It one of the best. He was the man, the visionary, the creator, the driving force behind Troyer. His car was desired by his competitors so much, so they built a company around it. You can still hear a young racer “I want to drive a Troyer” Long after he stopped racing Modifieds the name lives on.

My dad was my hero, he wasn’t perfect, but he was the one I looked up to. He taught me many lessons. I am thankful to have been his son even if it was for just a short time. We can accomplish much if our focus on what is truly important.

I am not here trying to be a downer, instead, let us celebrate life! Let us celebrate those who have influenced us. Let’s celebrate the lives that have touched each one here in so many ways. Think about how one solitary life can impact so many. Each of us with a story to tell, each of us with a fond memory. Life is truly extraordinary.

The writer of Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 reminds us;

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.

When we look back and remember how their life touched ours, how they influenced us. We remember because of the relationship we had. There was a bond, a connection, and time we shared.

Life is interesting in that we only have one to live and for each one the end is certain to come. We plan and dream, looking forward to the days ahead, when in fact, it is not the days ahead we need to focus on it is this day, this moment, this place.

A question comes to mind when concerning the life we live and whether we are good enough. We believe our value is found in the things we say and do. But the love of God knows doesn’t measure things that way. Each of us is as valuable to God as another. Our Savior Jesus Christ gave His life for everyone. No need to question if we deserve His sacrifice. We need only to receive it as it was intended, a gift. The Scripture reminds us that nothing can separate us from his Love.

 Romans 8:38-39, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That is in contrast to the world we live in. The world ties our value to the things we say and do. We only accept those who live up to our standards. We can be thankful that God does not use the same standard. God values each one the same, regardless of performance. He opens his arms to each one of us. The decision is in His hands. God chooses to show us mercy.

 Exodus 33:19b I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

We are fond of planning for tomorrow, looking ahead to the things we are going to do, the places we will go. Oh the plans we make. Truth be told it is in those moments when we lose sight of what is truly important, today, here, now.

We can get so caught up in life that we forget to live. We forget to look around and see the lives of others. We can be so focused on tomorrow that we forget that today is all we can count on and really it is just this moment in time. Again we are reminded; to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Jesus determines our time, like a gardener that tends to the garden and determines which ones are ready. He may pluck the most fragrant flower. He may remove the choking weeds. We are only guaranteed this moment.  We do not know what tomorrow will bring and all our plans, hopes and dreams will not make its coming any more certain.

We expend so much effort trying to secure the future we overlook the opportunities we have to make a difference in the lives of those around us each day.  Maybe some adjustments is in order?

We need to go forward with a renewed effort to live and embrace the journey! All too often we focus on getting somewhere, when in fact there will always be a place to get to. No we must focus on here, now, embracing the journey, this time, this place, and this moment.

Let me encourage you to remember how others have influenced you, cherish those memories. Take the time to invest in someone else’s life. Chose to be together. One of our greatest gifts we can give is our time. Worrying about tomorrow isn’t something that is beneficial to living. We need to take the time we have today and use it, spend time with those you love.

As Hastings reminds us in his poem The Station; the milestones we set on the path of our life are meaningless, there will always be another one, something else to accomplish. What matters is the journey and who you spend it with.

“So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot oftener, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station (the end) will come soon enough.”

Our lives need to reflect the character of the Holy Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Not the ways of the world; hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy. Those that live in the way of the world have no hope of seeing things through the eyes of God.

The choice is ours. As we remember those lives that influenced ours, we should reflect on how we are living our own life. How have our choices helped or hurt those around us? We can decide to live differently.

Don’t let this moment pass in vain, search your life, turn to God, He can and will have mercy, compassion and love for you regardless of your shortcomings. Remember, nothing can separate us from His love, the love that is in Christ Jesus. I encourage you to slow down, look around, let the lives of others touch your heart, and then touch theirs. Amen?

Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.