"No matter what happens always be thankful, for this is God's will, for you who belong to Jesus."

I Thes 5:18 (NLT)

Mark Martin, unscathed, came out with a win. And Dale, Jr. ended the MBNA 400 at Dover International Speedway almost 100 points in the lead for the NASCAR Cup Championship.

What happened in the five hours leading up to those two facts could be described as a Sunday afternoon melee. Melee is defined in the dictionary as a confused tumultuous mingling. Race fans saw all of that happen on a cloudy day in Dover, Delaware.

Tony Stewart overran pit road and had to make another lap before pitting. That worked out in his favor because he was so far behind he missed the 19-car pileup, and the #20 Home Depot car finished the race in second place.

Both of Ray Evernham's cars were very fast and at one point seemed destined for a one-two finish. Jeremy Mayfield driving the #19 polesitter car slipped off the track and spun his wheels in the mud after running into a pileup of cars with only 54 laps remaining in the race.

Kasey Kahne, Everham's other car, managed to squeeze through but 18 others were damaged from that 'big one'. Jimmie Johnson, a top contender in the points race, jumped from his car as flames roared underneath. The Lowe's # 48 was hauled to the garage. The first red flag was thrown and the race was halted for twenty minutes.

To add to the melee, Ryan Newman slid into the tire barrier when he missed the entrance to pit road. His #12 Alltel Dodge was also part of the big crash. Defending champion Newman was trying for a record tying third straight Dover win, but it was not to be this day.

The race was under way once more when Casey Mears ailing car left oil on the track and Kasey Kahne crashed with 18 laps to go on the Monster Mile, resulting in a second red flag for the afternoon.

What a race! What an afternoon! Emotions ran high and low through the entire field of racers. Championship points, total wins, and lots of dollars came and went in the course of one afternoon. Yet, there was a finish and a winner. Mark Martin, avoiding the accidents, won the race and ended a long losing streak in his career.

Sometimes our lives get on a roller coaster much like we saw at Dover today. Days begin with a good job, wonderful family and lots of sunshine. Within less than an afternoon these earthly accomplishments can disappear. The stock market often goes up and goes down all in the same day. With a few words our vocations screech to a fast halt. Accidents happen and on a chilly, cloudy afternoon we feel like we have been through a confused tumultuous ride.

Yet, we can come out of that melee a winner. God tells us in His Word to always be thankful. No matter what happens we are to be joyful. We are to keep on praying. Those commands often go against our natural preferences. But, we must not let our circumstances or feelings dictate our actions.

You may be on a long losing streak today. Don't give up! Try obeying the three commands given in I Thessalonians 5:18. Be joyful, keep on praying, and be thankful. Make a conscious effort to choose God's way and you will become a winner again.

Melva Cooper, Copyright 2004
Used with permission.