On Sunday afternoon, as I awaited the start of the final NASCAR race of the season, it occurred to me how strange things were about to become in stock car racing’s top series. No matter who won the race at Homestead, Florida, NASCAR would have a new champion for the first time in half a decade. Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson had enjoyed a spectacular reign, but at the end of the race on Sunday either Tony Stewart or Carl Edwards would supplant him as NASCAR’s king. Some say Johnson had grown stale and that this changing of the guard is exactly what NASCAR needs. Others continue to run out of superlatives while contemplating Johnson’s unprecedented five-year run of stability at the top and his sustained excellence. No matter what your point of view on the subject, there is a new king in NASCAR—Tony Stewart. Long live the king.
At a moment in Israel’s history when they also had known a time of sustained stability, unwelcome change suddenly came to them. Isaiah 6 begins with the words, “In the year that King Uzziah died,” marking their own changing of guard after a time of prosperity, peace, and calm unprecedented in Israel’s national history. This must have left the Israelites with a sense of unsettledness and fear, but that was the purpose for what the prophet tells us next. Isaiah wrote:
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple” (6:1).
King Uzziah’s throne may have become empty, but the throne that really mattered was not empty. God still ruled—and He continues to rule the universe of His creation today. When days of sudden change overtake us, shattering our comfortable lives and disturbing our hearts, it is important for us to remember that God still reigns in heaven and on earth. While we may appreciate the seasons of life that are marked by constancy and stability, sudden change need not cause us despair. The Lord is still sitting on the throne—and, because of that, we can be at peace.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain