At the National Prayer Breakfast this month, the keynote address was by NASCAR great, Darrell Waltrip. He told of two racecar drivers, and what made the difference between the two.
The first went at it all the wrong ways. People called him brash, ruthless, pushy, cocky, conceited, aloof, boastful, arrogant, and downright annoying. The fans hated him. The drivers despised him. Richard Petty once told him “I don’t know how you keep a sponsor.” His personal life was mess. He drank too much. He did everything to satisfy himself. That was his lifestyle.
The second was a driver popular with the fans, respected by his competitors.
Waltrip was both drivers. In his words, “In 1983, my horrible wreck knocked me ‘conscious.’ It was a wakeup call. If I died would I have gone to heaven or to hell? I thought I was a pretty good guy, but good guys can go to hell. I started attending church.” In time, with his wife and the preacher, “I got down on my knees and prayed that the Lord would come into my life and forgive me of my sins and be my Lord and Savior.”
“That changed everything. I felt like a new man! I knew I was different. When the Lord comes into your life you’re going to be different. You have to be different. The Lord changed me for the better. I still had wrecks. I still had problems. But now I wasn’t in it alone.”
He was describing the life change that accompanies conversion to Christ. He discovered a basic Christian doctrine, that right living is not the way to right relationship with God; it’s the other way around.
This is a theme in Romans 6: “As Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” “Our old self was crucified with Him…so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” “Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” “Sin shall not be master of you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
If you concede that God has an ethical demand on your life, surely it is good news that to truly know Him is to be empowered to live rightly! By faith, you participate in the change. By faith you are in Christ, and in Christ you no longer have to yield to sin. People are not independent; either we are subject to sin or to God. God’s grace is the only power which can break the mastery of sin.
I appreciate Mr. Waltrip’s account of his life. Look for his humorous, heartfelt speech on YouTube (see link below). He may have had a 30-year career turning left, but he turned out right!