“Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" (Matthew 6:4)
The joy of many quiet Sunday afternoons for me in America between April and November was curling up in a comfy chair to watch a 3 hours Nascar race on TV. That’s North American Stock Cars. My wife would tease me that it was so boring as all they did for 3 hours was turn left. But that’s missing the point – and she did change her mind when I finally talked her into attending a live race. To set the matter straight - they compete in four road races during a full season when they have to turn left and right. But typically they race on banked concrete ovals anti-clockwise, unlike Formula 1 where they race on flat tracks clockwise and have to turn left and right during every race. The excitement of Nascar is 40 cars trying to get past each other, running at 200 miles an hour, for 300+ miles, sometimes 4 abreast, with only inches between the cars in front, behind and on either side. And, just like in any sport, if you have an investment in who wins you can fully enjoy the competitive aspect. Multi-car spectacular crashes are not the reason for watching, but the ever present possibility does add spice to the whole event.
My hero was Jimmie Johnson. A new “rookie” driver when we first moved to the States, he went on to win the top division championship 6 times during our 17 year sojourn. I was struck by something Jimmy said a few years ago, after he had won his fourth championship. It went something like this. “It’s not just on the track on race weekends that races are won. They are also won in the workshop during the close season.” Nascar drivers are American superstars, never out of the spotlight throughout the 8 months of racing season. Everything the drivers say and do is scrutinised by the cameras and analysed by the experts. But then the cameras are switched off. As a spectator those close season months were dull because nothing seems to be happening. I couldn’t wait for April to roll around and a new season of racing to begin. Jimmie went on to say that it is during that close season “when no one is watching we test and test again, every scenario for every track and every component on the car, until every setting for every component for every track is at its maximum effectiveness.”
Trophies for Christians can also be won or lost in the close season. God allows us to be put through multiple tests when no one is watching. His objective is that we are spiritually successful. Fear has often served me well in those tests; fear that comes from the knowledge that my heavenly Father sees me all the time. It is easier for me to act like a Christian when I know other people are watching me. But He knows what I think, say and do in secret. That’s why the Bible says sinners prefer to sin in the dark.
But know that… “Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing is secret that that will not be made known” (Luke 12:2).
My Mum used to say to us boys, “I may not always know what you are up to, but be sure your sins will find you out.” How we respond in the private testing times are vital to our long term success.
Paul and Angelita Ogle are part of the Belfrey Groups Steering Team. They also lead the Belfrey Group 'Germinators'.