A Late Caution Flag

"When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed,
you will be strong in character and ready for anything."
James 1:3,4 (NLT)

Under caution on the final lap, Ryan Newman made it to Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday. Even though he had to make a green pit stop on the 22nd lap to remove debris that was blocking the front of his radiator, Ryan's #12 Alltel Dodge was fast enough to work his way through the slower cars.

For the first 88 laps it appeared Jeff Gordon's #24 DuPont Chevrolet would be out front all afternoon. Then suddenly a cloud of white smoke revealed a blown engine and his day was over.

Veteran driver, Dale Jarrett, took the lead when both he and Newman decided to stay on the track instead of getting gas and tires after a caution on lap 176. His #88 UPS Ford hung in there and finished third for Dale's first top-five finish in many races.

Ray Evernham's #9 Dodge driven by rookie Kasey Kahne finished second for the fourth time this season. His really fast car decorated in Mt. Diew green for the day appeared to be closing in on Newman when the yellow flag was thrown on the last lap. P.J. Jones's crashed car had come to a stop in the middle of the track. With as many as six cars behind Jones the crew did not want to delay reaching him in case there was an injury.

Whether Kasey could have caught Ryan we will never know. Because of the late caution, displeasure could be detected from the murmur across the hundreds of thousands of fans at the track. Clearly FOX announcers Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds would have loved to see a green flag finish. Because Kasey Kahne is a favorite in our household, I heard it as a moan from our living room when my young granddaughter translated the last few laps via my cell phone.

Diehard NASCAR fans do not like yellow flag endings to a race. And after two weeks of confusion and controversy over many caution laps, Sunday's race came off without a hitch until the yellow flag was thrown in that final lap.

Nevertheless, Kasey came in second again. This young, handsome driver must wait once more to know the elation of crossing the checkered flag first in a cup race. He will get there everyone seems to understand. And probably very soon. Maybe even next race day. But, for today he must deal with the heartache and disappointment of coming in second again.

Have you been handed out some disappointments at this time of your life? Does it seem you have gotten very close to your dreams and goals only to find there is another issue staring you in the face?

Flat tires, blown engines and yellow flags slow race drivers down. But, they will be the first to tell you there is another race day and that next race may see them in Victory Lane. Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman and all NASCAR champions know that misfortune can be turned into learning times. Tough times teach us perseverance. Kasey's character will increase and mature with these second-place finishes. Someday because of his patience through the pain of losing, he will, more than likely, win a NASCAR Cup Championship.

So today view your struggles as opportunities for growth. Thank God for giving you the strength to endure, and for standing with you in the tough times. If a yellow flag is thrown late in your life, allow God to fully develop your endurance and then you will be ready for any test or trial that comes your way.

Your championship will someday be completed in Heaven, if you know Jesus as your personal Savior.

Melva Cooper, Copyright 2004
Used with permission.