It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools will
not turn from evil to attain them. Proverbs 13:19
We were in the final lap of the Winston All-Star Race at the Charlotte
Speedway. The year was 1995. I had drafted off of Jeff Gordon and went
high on the track to try to pass. I looked to my left and saw Dale Earnhardt
drop in on the low side. We were going into the third turn three wide-Jeff,
Dale and me. That's fine if you're at Talladega. That track is wide enough.
But it's not so fine at Charlotte. It's narrower there. Of the three of us, whoever
didn't wreck would win the race.
You need to know that Dale and I were what I call "frienemies." Off the
track, we were friends. Our motor coaches were parked next to each other's.
But on the track, I would rather wreck than let him win. He felt exactly the
same way about me. Who would lift (his foot off the gas pedal)? That was
the question. I knew that Dale wouldn't. He knew that I wouldn't. Jeff knew
that neither of us would, so he lifted, assuming Dale and I would crash each
My eyes met Dale's eyes for a split second. Volumes were communicated
in that moment without saying a word.
Are you gonna lift?
No way! Are you?
So we did. Dale's front left tire bit into the apron as he drifted too low.
When the chassis's weight transferred, his vehicle shot up the track. Jeff had
pulled out just in time. Dale's car crashed into mine and took us both into
the wall. As crazy as it sounds, even though we were doing over 180 miles an
hour, we chose to wreck. I broke three ribs, and Jeff Gordon went low, got
through and won the race. Dale and I were so set against each other that we
lost sight of the bigger picture and the consequences of our actions.
There once was a big pig on a farm in Oregon that was a lot like DW and
Dale. This pig was standing at a gate, but the opening was narrower than
the hog was wide and the posts on each side were charged with electricity.
The porker had been through this gate before and knew the electrifying
consequences, so it stood and pondered the options.
The consideration was how long to delay the pain, not whether to
inflict it. The mud on the other side was just too desirable. Finally, the curly-tailed
oinker began to squeal. The sound rose to a feverish pitch as the pig
imitated a dragster at the line revving its engine as the starting lights begin
their descent from red to green. The animal tensed, dashed, got zapped and
didn't stop squealing until it jumped in the mud.
We are a lot like this pig. We decide to sin and start hollering about the
consequences even before we do it. We show remorse over the backlash of
adultery on our spouse and children before having an affair, and then we do
it anyway. We overspend, knowing full well the cost after the purchase will
be greater than the actual price paid. We gossip, knowing the repercussions
of our words will last longer than the feeling of being a big shot. It's
the same with an addiction, whether it involves nicotine, alcohol, drugs,
pornography or food. We lament the consequences, scream and dash
through the gate not realizing that, unlike the pig, the zapping can last for
the rest of our lives.
Just like the pig thought the mud bath was worth the pain, DW and
Dale thought keeping the other guy from winning would be worth the
wreck. However, DW lost more than a race. His broken ribs took him out of
the point standings that year and started a downward spiral that would
become the most difficult period of his life.
In the spiritual realm, sin only takes a moment, but it starts a downward
spiral of consequences that last forever. What seems a good idea at the
time pales in the light of eternity. Sin is not worth it. Don't get zapped.
Don't wreck. Finish the race.
Holy caring and forgiving Shepherd, I don't want to dishonor Your name.
I don't want to wreck again. Please heal me from the times I crashed in the
past. Give me the courage to stay out of the mud. And forgive me for
the times I got in. Thank You. Today's reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12; John 3:16-21; Ecclesiastes
7:29; 2 Peter 2:22; Proverbs 13:19
And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live.
Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing
that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30
I kept my car at Dale Earnhardt's father-in-law's place, and I knew Dale
from day one. When he was in his early 20s, he was a chip off the old block.
A rough rednecked kid, he drove dirt tracks just like his dad had done.
Looking at him, no one would have guessed that he would have the kind of
success he eventually had.
He was three years younger than I was; and even though we started out
as friends, it did not stay that way. As time went by, a lot of tension grew
between us. I was envious of Richard Petty when I started racing because he
was the king of the hill and had what I wanted. In the 1980s, Dale was jealous
of me because I had what he wanted. He raced me harder than anyone
else; he even wrecked me a couple of times. I always tried to get him back.
Sometimes we were friends. Sometimes we were enemies. We were frienemies.
In 1986, at Richmond, Dale wrecked me and almost killed me. He
slammed my car through the fence. When we wrecked at Charlotte in 1995,
I broke my ribs and my run ended.
For many years I owned my own race team. In 1998, I sold it but was
obligated to drive for the new owner. Dale called and wanted me to drive for
his team instead. He had spent millions on a new facility, but he had eight
wrecked race cars and a driver who was hospitalized. Plus, Pennzoil, his
sponsor, was very concerned. This was an opportunity to heal my relationship
with Dale, race in a good car, be on a good team and not have the pressure
of being an owner-but I already had a commitment. The next day, out
of nowhere, the new owner called and released me from that commitment.
The next day! In my mind, it was a real God thing.
I was glad to help Dale and he was glad to help me. God used us to help
each other. Pennzoil continued as his sponsor and I got to keep racing. Dale
and I worked through our stuff, and we moved from being frienemies to
being friends again.
Sin makes us frienemies with God. It took a dramatic act to bridge the gap
so that we can be friends with Him. In fact, it was our sin that sent Christ to
the cross. Our basic nature is another frienemy. It too is dangerous, because
our willingness to continue in sin wrecks our fellowship with God.
Ananias and Sapphira are examples of what can happen when we are
freinemies with God. Their hearts weren't pure, and they were dangerous.
They were trying to use the church for their benefit. They didn't care if anybody
else wrecked, and they didn't care about God.
A and S were at the Pearl Direct level with ShackWayLife and enjoyed
being in a big church because of all the contacts. Peter's church was
The couple sold a piece of property, brought part of the money and gave
it to the elders. They said they had given the total proceeds, when actually
they had only given a portion. God didn't care if they gave all or part. What
He did care about was their act of lying and why they lied. God told Peter,
and Pete sent for Ananias.
Ananias was pleased when he walked in. All the elders were there, along
with Peter. I'm finally in the inner circle, he surely thought. Then Ananias's
attention turned to Matthew. I'll bet he's about ready to attend a ShackWayLife
meeting. With his contacts, he could become a Direct in no time. Sapphira and I will be
at Emerald Direct before we know it.
Then Peter told him what he'd done, and before Ananias could start
smooth talking, God dropped him like a rock. When Sapphira came in, He
did the same thing to her. They would never make Diamond Direct.
Word of the two deaths traveled fast on the prayer chain. Everyone realized
just how serious God was about their having pure hearts, and they concluded
that it was dumb to try and snow Him. Not even becoming a Triple
Diamond in ShackWayLife was worth the risk.
We have to confess and repent in order to stop being frienemies with
God. We must come clean with our sin and stop doing it. Our heavenly
Father wants us to have pure hearts so that we can go from being His frienemies
to being His friends.
Heavenly Father, I confess my sin. Forgive me. I repent. My desire is to turn
from sin to You. Show me the hidden stuff that I might confess and repent of
it, too. Thank You. Amen. Today's reading: Acts 5:1-11: Colossians 3:1-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
and the Word
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10, NKJV
Before each race, my wife, Stevie, would pray and ask God for the right
Scripture for me for that day. She would then write it on a note card or a
hunk of duct tape and give it to me as I got in the car. At some point she
started giving a verse to Dale Earnhardt, too. Stevie tells the story.
One day I was out on pit road with a roll of gray duct tape, and I was writing on
it. This was right before the race started. Dale walked by. We were just acquaintances,
even though we'd been around the same racetracks for years. He stopped and asked me
what I was doing. I told him and he said, "Where's mine?" It was his way.
From that day on, Dale didn't want to race until he had his Scripture. When DW
and Dale were both racing, Dale would take both verses I had written out, pick the one
he wanted and give the other one to Darrell. He would always look at me and say, "I
got the best one, didn't I?" That was his way.
I signed each verse with "I love you." When I wasn't there, Darrell would give the
verse to Dale. Sometimes Darrell would sign it "I love you, Stevie." Sometimes he signed
it "I love you, Darrell." If it didn't say, "I love you," Dale made Darrell add the words.
On the day Dale died, I had prayed intently about the verse I should give him. I
was late getting to pit road with Dale 's Scripture. Dale was nervously looking for me,
but smiled warmly when I arrived. He read the verse, thanked me, stuck it on his dash
and drove off.
Dale always raced for himself, but not that day. Dale backed off and blocked for
the two front-runners, his racing teammates, Michael Waltrip and his son, Dale, Jr.
That's what he was doing on the last half of the last lap when he bit the wall the last
time-head-on at almost 180 miles an hour-with his verse on his dash.
I had seen enough changes in Dale over the years that I'm convinced God gave me
his last Scripture so that I, and everyone else who cared about him, might be comforted
as to the condition of his soul. This Scripture must have applied to Dale's life. Why
else would God have given it to me on that day? The Scripture I gave him was "The
name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe."
The word "safe" in Hebrew means "inaccessibly high, secure and out of
danger." A safe place was far enough within the outer walls and was high
enough to be secure even from arrows. A strong tower was safe.
The word "righteous" doesn't
mean "good." It means "forgiven."
"The Lord" means "Jesus Christ."
So, when the righteous run into the
strong tower, the verse actually means
"the forgiven are already in a strong
tower." Christ is the place where the
forgiven are secure.
Salvation is the ultimate strong
tower. It is what the Old Testament
refers to in "My God is my rock, in
whom I find protection. He is my
shield, the strength of my salvation,
and my stronghold, my high tower,
Stevie Waltrip believes Dale
Earnhardt's reliance on Scripture
went from initially being a lucky
charm or rabbit's foot, to a dependence
on the Strong Tower into
which he drove. Stevie told me,
"Dale was drawn to the Scripture, he reverenced it, and he blocked out
everything else while he read it." Other verses she had given him had covered
the role of Jesus Christ as Savior. He had dwelled on them as well.
Dale knew God's plan. Stevie Waltrip had made sure of that. She
believes the final verse was given by God to comfort Dale's loved ones and
her. Stevie believes Dale Earnhardt entered into his Strong Tower on
February 18, 2001, when the number 3 car hit the wall at Daytona.
Are you ready to enter your Strong Tower? -JC
Holy God, I acknowledge Your name as my Strong Tower. Thank You for
the assurance of my salvation. Amen. Today's reading: Proverbs 18:10; 2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 61:3
Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.
Acts 8:2, NIV
You never expect anyone to get killed. Every Sunday in a race somebody
could crash and die, but you just don't anticipate it. Dale Earnhardt had
been in a million wrecks. He had hit the wall and he had turned over. He
was like Superman. He was Earnhardt. He always got up and raced again.
He was too tough to get killed at a racetrack. He might kill a race car, but
there was no race car that would kill him.
For me, Dale's death was so huge because I was there, but I wasn't in the
race. It was the first time we hadn't been on the racetrack together. He was
in a car; I was in a broadcast booth. So, it was different.
This was my brother Michael's first race for the Earnhardt team. He
hadn't won a Winston Cup race yet. But on the last lap, Michael was going
to win the Daytona 500, Dale, Jr. was going to run second, Dale, Sr. was
going to finish third. Dale, Sr.