I’ve always been more of a NASCAR fan. Maybe I’m just too much of a redneck, I don’t know. But when it comes down to it, fast cars are fast cars, and so the boys and I have also followed a little F1 and IndyCar over the years.
Our interest in open wheel racing was heightened by the emergence of a driver named Dan Wheldon. My mom has spent a lot of time the last few years tracing our family roots, and so far we have it traced all the way back to Nottinghamshire, England to a man named Gabriel Whelden who came to this country about 1638 . The name has undergone a few changes over the years: Wheldon, Whilden, Weldon. If you’ve done genealogy stuff, you know how this is.
Anyway. Coming from English Whelden/Wheldon/Weldon stock, we’ve always considered Dan part of the family. Can’t prove it, but we still claim him. Sort of like our claim to Clemson University since part of the college was built on land purchased from our family for a dollar an acre back in the day. The kids always watch for scores and root for “Weldon U”, which is ranked No. 7 right now. But I digress.
As most are aware, Dan Wheldon was killed in a horrific crash in yesterday’s IndyCar race. We don’t have satellite or cable, so anytime a race is on a channel we can get, we’re thrilled. So we settled in yesterday afternoon to watch this championship battle, along with the possibility of “cousin” Dan winning a five million dollar bonus. (Long story, look it up if you’re interested)
We watched in horror along with everyone else as a 15 car melee ensued only a few laps in. As soon as we saw Dan’s car go airborne, we knew things looked bad. When the tarps came out on his car, we knew it was bad. And of course, then the announcement came.
It was a sad, sad day for racing. Dan was a quality champion and this year’s Indy 500 winner. We are certainly praying for those who are his “real” family: his wife and two young sons chief among them.
What all of this served to remind us, as we reflected on how fast the how thing happened, was how brief this life truly is. And how quickly it can all end. A friend of ours lost a “legit” cousin last week when a car crossed the center line and hit him head on. My wife’s uncle is having surgery today for colon cancer. It can happen anytime, anywhere, not just to race car driver’s doing over 220 mph.
As they say, the stats on death are sobering: one out of one dies. This life is but a blip on the screen, or as Scripture says, “a vapor.” It’s a mist that is hear one minute and gone the next.
Death is a part of life because sin is a part of life. When Adam sinned, we all died. While the death of Dan Wheldon is tragic and shocking, it should also be a reminder that death is an inevitability we all face. And that being the case, we ought to prepare ourselves for it.
People went nuts a few years ago with the whole Y2K thing. Some clever folks made millions selling survival kits and so on as we prepared for the end of the world as we know it because of the coming computer collapse. Of course, it didn’t happen, but thousands had spent thousands making preparation.
How much more should we be preparing for something we KNOW will come. Death is a sure thing. But life is still possible. Scripture tells us that Christ has overcome death. He has made a way for sinful men to escape the penalty of sin and find forgiveness and life through faith in His work on the cross.
Sure, because of sin we all deserve death, and we all deserve the hell that follows. God is pure and holy and righteous, and we can never stand in His presence on our own. But Christ’s perfection can be ours by faith, and we can look forward to the end of life in this world because of the promise of His pardon and presence in the next.
I don’t know where “cousin” Dan stood with Christ. I never read anything or heard anything that would lead me to believe he experience conversion in Christ. To me, that’s even more tragic than the crash. His entrance into eternity was so quick, but not really unexpected. We all know we’ll get there some day. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared.
You may not race a rocket on wheels, but it can happen just as quickly to you. A car head on in your lane. The “C” word spoken by your doctor. Regardless of the circumstance, it’s coming for each of us. I pray you will be prepared. Seek God in His Word. Repent of your sin and rest in the finished work of Christ. Find a good Bible centered church who can teach you and pray with you about these things until God settles them in your heart. But please, don’t ignore this reality. The leap from Indy, or from wherever you are, to Eternity is briefer than you think. Seek Christ today!