Last Saturday night, amid patriotic tributes and cheering fans, was one of the most tense evenings of the NASCAR season. Richmond International Raceway was the scene of the final race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins. Adding to the tension was the fact that two of NASCAR’s most popular drivers, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Tony Stewart, were precariously on the bubble of elimination from postseason competition. As the race unfolded, both drivers took turns looking like they had lost the opportunity, and both drivers fought back to claim their spots in the Chase. It was a night of nail-biting tension for NASCAR fans, with the result of the race producing more relief than anything else.
That is what tension can do to us—and sports certainly can generate more than its fair share of it. Undoubtedly, however, there are other forces at work in our world that generate far more important sources of tension, fear, and anxiety. Sports tension can actually be fun, but there is nothing fun about the anxiety produced by the fear of a serious medical condition, or of a lost job, or of a failing marriage, or of a prodigal child. In those tension-filled life experiences there is only one source of relief from these anxieties—the living, loving heavenly Father who offers us Himself and His grace, comfort, and peace. That is why the Scriptures challenge us to be “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
But this requires something of us. It requires us to recognize the depth of our need and embrace the depth of His care. Then and only then can we know true peace of heart. Only when we respond to His call: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain