By KEVIN WESTCOTT
The dust has settled and the first snows of the off-season have blanketed much of central New York. In just a few days we’ll all be gathering around a table to feast on a traditional meal with gratitude in our hearts. As much as I miss racing this time of year, I also don’t. I enjoy the extra time with my family, friends and church family.
21 race seasons ago my wife encouraged me to become a Finish Line Chaplain under the covering of Bishop David M. Wells. He was a pastor at the time and had been the DIRT Motorsports Chaplain for 18 years. As you know, he is now with the Lord. A few weeks ago he entered eternity after another stroke and pneumonia added complications to his health. that he would not be able to fight back from. I’m so grateful we got to meet and work together over the years.
I went out on my own for a few seasons beginning in 1998 under the spiritual covering of my own pastor. When 2002 rolled around I had to say goodbye to my own father, and Pastor Wells was having some serious health issues that required gamma knife surgery on his frontal lobe. While I was praying one day during that summer I clearly heard the Lord tell me to reach out to him and help him again.
I called him after his recovery period and he was glad I was coming back. After his retirement from the Chaplaincy he gave the Finish Line Chaplain Ministry to Ed Harkin and myself. I took over the Gater Racing News Column while Ed covered the DIRTcar Series.
So many things have changed over those 21 seasons, but one thing remains constant. We are dedicated to be living examples of the love of God in whatever way He leads us, whether spiritual or practical. Bishop Wells was as human as all of us, but His love for the sport kept him going well beyond his retirement from it. Ed and I are both grateful for everything we received from him.
As we celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving, let’s all bow our hearts and heads for a moment before our feasts to remember and offer some thanks to God for the gift He have us in Pastor Wells, and for his dedication to the people involved in our sport.
We can add many other things we’re thankful for, and I’m sure “all y’alls” will have many things to express gratitude to God for. After all, we get to be a part of the greatest sport with the largest fan base, collectively, of any sport in America. That’s something in itself.
Personally, I’m grateful for open doors. God keeps opening doors for me. When Gater decided to close up shop, it was less than a week when Mike Mallet offered me the opportunity to write our spiritual column for Dirt Track Digest. Through five different owners at Fulton Speedway, four different owners at Utica Rome Speedway, three different owners at Brewerton Speedway and four different owners at Weedsport Speedway, the doors have remained open for me to represent Jesus Christ for you at all of those fine facilities.
I’ve had the honor and privilege to represent Jesus Christ for DIRT Motorsports, now DIRTcar Racing, as well as the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints, the Patriot Sprints, the CRSA Sprints, the All Star Sprint Series, the Lucas Oil Late Model Series, the Go Nuclear Late Model Series, the ARDC and NEMA Midgets, the King of Dirt Series, the ROC Dirt Series, and USAC to name few. All of these great organizations that have kept a door open to me. I even got to be involved at regional and national level QMA and USAC Quater Midget events. There were so many more that I have to stop for fear of forgetting anyone. Thank you to each and every sanctioning body and competition organization that has opened your doors to us, as well as the tracks that show such warm hospitality to us.
See how easy it is once you get started? Giving thanks actually makes you feel well. The phrase “give thanks” actually appears 39 times in the King James Bible. If God mentions it that many times it has to be beneficial to us since He is always looking our for our best interests.
The Apostle Paul summed it all up with this one statement:
“1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
No matter what life sends your way, give thanks. This doesn’t mean you have to accept the negative things that happen with fake gratitude, but rather look for good things to focus on and thank God for those things during the difficult times. When you’re blind sided by the tough stuff, just thank God that He has a solution and is working it out for your good.
As Paul said “this is the will of God for you.” You don’t need to wonder about that anymore. Paul clearly tells us God’s will right here. Be thankful. Express gratitude. Enjoy people and things more than you dislike people and things. Your health will improve the more your outlook becomes positively thankful.
Go ahead, have an amazing Thanksgiving Holiday. Eat, rest, and enjoy the day. I’ll personally be working, but that won’t stop my gratitude from rising to Heaven. Send some along with me and watch things change for your good.
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