This time of year should bring back memories for us, memories of the people we are thankful for. Spend some time and reminisce about who was instrumental in your journey and be thankful. Take a look around, are there people you are thankful for? Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

November brings us the celebration of Thanksgiving. We also begin the celebrations of the past season with banquets that honor our champions. Most speeches at the banquet include a long list of the people that played an important part during the season. Who are some of the people you are thankful for during the racing season? Might I suggest volunteer crew members, the folks that gave so much of their time to help others race.

When I think back to how I got to where I am today, I think of my late friend and fellow chaplain, Rick Satkowski. It was about this time of year in 2008 and we attended the Stafford Motor Speedway Banquet together. Rick did the blessing that night, remembering everyone who contributed to making the season a success. He also thanked God for a safe racing season. As Rick and I drove home that night we reminisced about the trips we had taken together, seminary classes, how God has been moving in the churches we pastored and our time with Racing with Jesus Ministries.

A few days later Rick went home to be with the Lord. I remember the call from his wife, in disbelief I tried to fathom the suddenness of it all. We were just together. We had just talked about our future plans. We had so much future ahead of us. How could it all be gone in an instant?

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.

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

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. We need to remember that our time here is short.  Don’t take for granted the help and sacrifice of others. We need to make an effort and show how thankful we are. We don’t know what tomorrow holds and the end result of our actions; where things will lead. 

Let me share the rest of the story. Back in 2002, Rick, as was his nature, did a favor for someone. He didn’t know who the young lady was and it didn’t matter, he was generous with his time and was willing to help. As things go, he found out her father was involved with racing and being a big race fan Rick was interested in talking with him. One thing led to another and we ended up in the garage at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Cup Weekend. Two kids in the candy store!

As we walked around in awe we saw the RWJM pace car, we recognized it from Stafford. We went over, introduced ourselves and that was where we met Brother Pat. He invited us to come along and participate in Chapel. We did and the rest as they say is history. 

I remember the first night we sat in the pace car at Thompson Speedway. As we led the Whelen Modified Tour through the parade laps we were like kids on Christmas who received the coolest gift. God really means it when He says He will bless you beyond your wildest dreams. Rick and I felt blessed that night and every time we were allowed to minister to those in the racing community. We knew this was where God called us to be.

I know God has a plan and reason for everything. He used Rick’s willingness to serve others as the door of opportunity to get us involved. But that wasn’t the end of the story. God then used me to come alongside Brother Pat when he got sick back in 2003/4. I am where I am today because of God’s plan and the willingness of others to be used by Him. 

Most times in life we gain truly significant things through the efforts of others. That is the way God wired us when He created us. We need people alongside for the journey. Who do we have by our side when we walk through life? Who are we thankful for?

I am thankful for having a true friend like Rick. Our relationship was ordained by God and God had his hand on it. Through that relationship, God blessed us beyond our dreams. We enjoyed some great times together. I miss him. There will always be a place next to me in the pace car for Rick.

Philippians 1:3-6, I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Today, I lead the RWJM team of almost 30 chaplains, but I do not do it alone. I am thankful for my wife, Lynda, who sees my worse days, but still is there to provide encouragement and love. I am thankful for Dan Petfield and Todd Heft who stand on my right and my left to hold my arms up when the battle gets difficult and I get tired. I am thankful for our board and the many chaplains that make up our team. Together we reach so many more people than we could individually. I am thankful for my administrative assistants who do all the I dotting and T crossing that is necessary for the day-to-day operations to keep moving. I am thankful for a church, Christian Life Chapel, that supports me, RWJM and shares their pastor. God has truly blessed and prospered this ministry.

Remembering those who make what we do possible. When we do we acknowledge God and His provision, it is an act of worship. When we honor those who follow God’s call, we honor God. Know that God will not leave anything undone, He will complete it. 

Make an effort these coming weeks to say thanks to those who serve you. Make it a point to let those people know how much they mean to you. Remember all those who have given so much for you.