Things in life change, just as the seasons change so it goes. Change is a constant. In New England they say “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” If change is inevitable and time marches on what are we doing to insure we influence the direction of the future? What are we doing with the torch? We need to act in a way that will have a lasting effect on tomorrow. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Remember the old days? I am sure we all have stories of events, races, locked in our memory forever. We can recall them like they were yesterday. What about favorite drivers? We all have certain ones that for one reason or another we remember; memories that are burned into our minds forever.

How about heroes? People we look up to, separate them from others in our lives. We seek to use their lives as motivation for ours. Do you have some heroes in your life? Do you look up to someone and desire to be like them?

A funny thing happens when the next generation of racer comes on board. I have talked with many a father whose son or daughter has followed them into the driver’s seat. Many have said their child is their hero. From Mike McLaughlin talking about his son Max, to David Gilliland talking about his son Todd, to Joey Payne talking about his boys, to Don Wagner talking about his son.

I was at Mahoning Valley this week and talked with Don about the next generation. He shared the familiar refrain about it being harder to watch your kid verses driving yourself. His son needed to place in the top two in the consi to make the feature. As we looked over the lineup and went through the possibilities Don Sr. shared;

“He (Don Jr.) said it doesn’t matter he is going to win it.”

Sure enough on the last lap Don Jr. made a last lap pass to take down the win. I caught up with Don Sr. getting lined up for the feature and through the darkness you could see the smile. He extended his hand, shook his head in disbelief and said “He won it!”

Ah the torch, passing from one generation to the other. Don Sr. shared he welcomes the day he sees his son come by on the outside and pass him for the lead. That will be a cool day. He promised not to make it easy, but if Jr. has what it takes it will happen.

I think in one form or another we all have heroes. They help us connect the past with the future. Kept in prospective this is a healthy endeavor. Idol worship is a danger. Don’t put your hero on a pedestal, they will fall and fail you. Heroes do help us with the torch.

When the connection is in the family torch passing is easy. It is when it passes without the connection of family that it can get dropped. For the torch to be held high you have to know the journey it took to get here.

I remember something that happened at Thompson. A young driver, new to the sport and I were watching the local divisions race and George Summers walked by. I introduced the two of them. They shook hands, George and I made small talk and we went back to watching the races. Then it struck me that this young man had no idea who he had just shaken hands with. I am sure that if I asked him the last thing he would guess is that George was one of the best modified drivers in the Northeast.

Therein lies the challenge of transferring knowledge from one generation to the next. Do we know those who made it possible for us to race today? Do we understand the development of the technology? Do we care?

The Apostle Paul cared and took several young men under his wing and taught them about God and how to live a life that honors God. One of those men was Timothy. In one of his letters to Timothy he wrote about his race, life, and the fact that it was nearing the end. He charged Timothy to keep at it, follow the teachings he had been taught. Show the world the difference Christ can make in your life.

2 Timothy 4:1-8, I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 

 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. 

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

For me this passage holds special meaning. On the day that I was ordained to the Gospel Ministry, T. Marshall Thompson read this passage to me. He was my mentor, my Paul. He spent his time helping me learn to handle God’s word correctly. He helped me learn how to be bolder for Christ. He encouraged me to run the race in such a way as to win.

A short time after he read this passage to me T. Marshall left this earth to join God in Heaven. I will never forget the impression he made on me and the things he taught me. When I am faced with challenges beyond my understanding I think about T. Marshall and what he would tell me to do. He is still with me.

Let me ask a couple of questions; have you taken the time to pass along what you have learned in your life and help someone mature? Have you sought out someone with more experience than you and let them guide you? What have we done to continue the work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?

There is much we do not know and will not learn unless we let someone teach us. There are many challenges in life that we cannot get through without someone there to encourage us. Take some time and be an encourager. Make the effort to ask for help from someone who knows how. The experiences we endure in life are only valuable if we learn from them. Let us make every effort to help and encourage one another. Do your best not to let the torch fall. 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.