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Chapel Service


Kern County Raceway Park

August 30, 2014


“Making Sense of All This”


Bob Butcher


In conjunction with Don Rivers’

K&N Pro Series East message


Since August 9th the month of August has been a pretty tough month. We struggle to make sense of the loss and situation. We struggle within ourselves as we search for an answer, an explanation. Where do we turn when we have to deal with such a loss? How does it all make sense?

With the tragic events on Saturday night August 9th at Canandaigua Motorsports Park our thoughts and prayers go out to the Ryan Ward family as well as Tony Stewart, his family, and team. Words cannot express the deep sadness that an event like this had to happen. Part of the difficulty with processing what happened is that it happened so quickly, in the heat of competition. Two lives, countless families and racing in general have changed in a moment. Decisions made in the blink of an eye, when our adrenalin is flowing, looking back seems so foolish. No one planned for things to happen this way. And in hindsight every single one of us would stop before it happened.

When we get past the families involved, if that is possible, then we must also think about the Canandaigua Speedway ownership and management; and even the area and people in attendance.  I am sure many were Ryan Ward’s fans and this hit hard.  Personally for me, (Bob), this track is one of my home tracks I grew up around so I feel the pain in various ways also.  Yes, had I been able to attend the K&N event at Watkins Glen that weekend as I had planned all year I would definately have been at the Canandaigua track that night.  It has made me wonder whether the Lord simply protected me from that event, the high profile that came with it; and probably being the only MROA Chaplain onsite which meant I would have likely got involved. 

We find ourselves searching for words, searching for answers. What can we learn? You can’t take it back.

We feel overwhelmed as we search for answers. Where do we go when life presses in on us? Who do we turn to when we cannot find the answers to the questions in our hearts? We turn to God the creator of life Himself. The writer of Ecclesiastes helps us understand that in life there is a time for everything;

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8; “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

Death is veiled mystery, covered in sadness, grief and mystery. With every birth comes the announcement of another death. Death is an unknown for each of us, a reality that we would rather not experience. Death comes to everyone. Every day, every hour; every moment death comes to someone. Death brings broken hearts, empty homes and vacant chairs. It doesn’t matter the stage of life we are in. Whether we are a child, youth, or adult, death comes; sometimes in the blink of an eye.

The time is not known. Jesus determines our time, like a gardener that tends to the crops and determines which ones are ready. He may pluck the most fragrant flower. He may remove the choking weeds. We are here for only a moment. We need to use that time to reach out and touch the lives around us while we can daily.

The world we live in is performance based. How we are treated all to often depends on how we perform; what we say, what we do. People only accept others that perform up to their standards. But God is different. His love for us is not based on what we say or do. He loves us regardless of our performance. We read in Scripture that nothing can separate us from His love. That is one incredible blessing to ponder every day of our life.

Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God has for us that is shown in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The key is to be ready and watching. While God’s love for us doesn’t change, our usefulness to Him depends on how we respond to that love.

Luke 12:37: The servants who are ready and waiting for The Lord’s return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, He himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat!

1 Thessalonians 5:6: So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake, sober and be found watching for You.

We must live a noble life, reflecting the fruit of the Holy Spirit that we read about in Galatians 5:22, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. We must remove the hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, divisions and envy; for those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. We must prepare to live a long life, but be ready to leave this world and enter eternity at any moment.

The choice is ours. As we grieve the loss of life we need to reflect on how we are living our own life. We need to evaluate how living our life has helped or hurt those around us. We need to decide to live differently. Don’t let this moment pass in vain. Search your life, turn to God, He can and will have mercy, compassion and love for you.

Psalm 23; “The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters,

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, n I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Our Lord and Father we pray that Your Spirit would guide our thoughts and actions, especially when we open our mouths about this event. We pray Lord that you would motivate us to respect life more than anything in creation. Help us to follow the example set for us. We lift the Ward and Stewart families up to you and ask for your comfort and mercy to be with them. And out of all this would You use this entire situation for the good of racing and give wisdom to all the racing series involved. Thank You.

In Jesus name, Amen



Don Rivers – Racing With Jesus Ministries –

Bob Butcher – additional thoughts and updates blended