We love NASCAR in our house. We planned our weekend around watching the Daytona 500 -- then it was rained out. That was OK because NASCAR had a contingency plan for that. The race was rescheduled for last night. When the race came on at 6 p.m., we were ready. We ate dinner in front of the TV and settled in to cheer on our favorite drivers (Jeff Gordon for me, Tony Stewart for my husband, Mark Martin and Marcus Ambrose for my youngest, whoever wins for my oldest).
Just one lap into the race, there was a big wreck that took out several top contenders. The race was put under caution. But that was OK because NASCAR has a contingency plan for that. The debris was cleaned up, the drivers checked out at the infield care center and repairs were made to cars. The race continued.
After putting the kids to bed, my husband and I settled in to watch the rest of the race when the unexpected happened. Under caution, something on Juan Pablo Montoya's car broke, and we watched in horror as his car barrelled into the back of the jet dryer truck. For those of you not familiar with NASCAR, the jet dryers are used to dry the track and blow debris off of it. A jet dryer is exactly what it sounds like -- a jet engine mounted on the back of a truck. That jet engine holds about 200 gallons of jet fuel, which immediately caught fire and created a huge fireball on the track. No one was hurt, but it created a huge mess. NASCAR safety crews scrambled to put the fire out. The race was stopped. Plans to remove the burned out shell of a truck and fix the track were hastily created.
You see, NASCAR may have had a contingency plan for putting out a fire, they may have had a contingency plan for a wreck under caution, but I'm pretty sure they didn't have a contingency plan in place for a race car running into the back of the jet dryer truck. Because that's not supposed to happen. They had to create a plan on the spot, dealing with each piece of the incident -- help the driver of the car and the truck, put the fire out, clean up the track, patch the track and get the race back under way.
Life sometimes hands us a fireball of a mess for which we have no contingency plan. We think we've got everything under control -- until a child gets really sick, a friend hits a crisis, trouble crops up in a relationship or a job is lost. When that happens, we have two choices: We can crumble under the unexpected circumstance or we can create a new plan.
When life hands us circumstances that we could never have foreseen, situations for which we have no contingency plans, we can turn to God or we can turn away from Him. We can blame God for our circumstances or we can let Him step in and offer us His strength and comfort to get through. When the unimagineable happens, we can let it defeat us or we can let God lead us and teach us. Because it is in the midst of the fire that we learn the most -- about ourselves and our God.
If we always have a plan to deal with every circumstance, we begin to think we can do everything on our own. We have no need for God, no need to depend on Him. It is only in those times when we are stripped of everything -- all our plans, all our power to deal with a situation and all our understanding -- that we rely totally on Him. Psalm 59:16 says "But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." When we don't have a contingency plan, God does. His plan is for us to trust Him. It's for us to hand the entire situation over to Him and let Him lead us in how to handle it.
Our kids hit crises in their lives for which they have no contingency plans, too. They have trouble with friends. They get stressed about things at school. And they need help figuring out how to deal with those situations. In some of those cases, we are God's contingency plan for them. We are God's hands and feet in their lives. We need to show them the way to deal with those situations is to turn them over to God -- to let Him create the contingency plan.
The race eventually got back under way last night -- after an hour and a half delay. The hastily created plan fixed the track enough to let the drivers race. Just like we eventually get back on track after letting God implement His contingency plans in our lives.