Yesterday I asked Siri, “How many kids does Jeff Gordon have?”
Also–How many times has Kyle Busch crashed? Does Jimmy Johnson really shop at Lowes? Does Brad Klozowski live in the city or suburbs?
These are real questions I’m asked by my kids on a regular basis. Actually, they stopped asking me directly and now they ask me to ask Siri.
Two years ago I bought my son a small five dollar race car with an M&M’s logo on the hood and incidentally started this whole thing. These days names like Denny Hamlin and Trevor Bayne are as common as Elmo and Dora the Explorer. Joey Logano finally derailed Thomas the Tank Engine (thanks, Joey. I owe you, buddy).
To say that my 5 and 6-year-old love NASCAR is an understatement. They “played NASCAR” like it was their full-time job this summer. Parents/Grandparents/Caregivers, I’m telling you this set up was GOLD…hours of contentment if you toss in some snacks.
More than keeping them busy, I’ve watched their friendship and bond as brothers grow over pushing little diecast cars on a taped-together plastic track and a square of astroturf. Nothing fancy, no batteries required. And at night they lay in their bunk beds and recap their races from the day.
But let me clarify–we are not car people, okay? We are especially not NASCAR people. We have a parking space instead of a garage. We own maybe ten tools and keep them in the drawer of our nightstand (true). Pretty much we fill our cars with gas and take them to our guy Sam down the street when something goes wrong or needs maintaining. Cars are just not in our wheelhouse and that’s okay.
People ask me how our city-dwelling boys grew such an affinity for something they weren’t even raised up to appreciate. I think it’s because NASCAR is everywhere.
Getting a package in the mail: “Mom, NASCAR sign!”
Driving past a fast food chain: NASCAR sign.
Doing the laundry: NASCAR sign.
Drinking a bottle of water: NASCAR sign.
They are not UPS, McDonalds, Tide or Aquafina…they are NASCAR signs. My younger son will request “Jeff Gordon drink” and fully expects a Pepsi in return.
The point of advertising or sponsorship is to make the consumer want to buy, use, wear, eat or drink that product being advertised, right? Product advertising is a powerful thing but in this case hasn’t had the intended effect on my boys. Seeing the same signs out in public that match the signs plastered on their favorite cars doesn’t make them want to shop for furniture, electronics, energy drinks or motor oil. It makes them want to play/watch/talk about NASCAR because the products remind them of the race.
I see the M&M’s logo and suddenly need to eat chocolate. They see M&M’s and can tell you who drives that car, how many races they’ve won, and probably where the driver lives (because it’s gotten a little weird like that).
Then last year they went to their first real NASCAR race. That night as I tucked them in the little one grabbed my neck and pulled me right up to his face.
“Mom,” he whispered. “I love NASCAR. I love it infinity.”
The live and up-close experience of the race had done them in…for infinity…which, you know, is serious.
I thought to myself,
They follow NASCAR like I want to follow Jesus.
They live it out, study it, watch it, ask questions about it…
they find relationship with each other in it…
they see it everywhere they go.
Anyone can look around and name things for what they appear to be. But when you love Jesus and actively pursue how He lived and who He loved and what He promised the everyday things of this world will point to something bigger. Everything begins to have meaning. Average experiences become holy encounters and the more we encounter Him the more we love Him. We start to love him “infinity” and the people around us take notice.
A field of crops isn’t just a field of crops it’s a reminder of a provision. A pen isn’t just a pen it’s a tool to encourage someone. The guy making your latte isn’t just another barista but is Joe. And Joe loves to paint and can play six different instruments and speaks three languages. He has a daughter and dreams of seeing her graduate college someday.
Nature isn’t just nature. Things aren’t just things. People aren’t just people. They all come with narratives and stories that broaden the scope and depth of their meaning and we have the power to claim them as anything but ordinary.
A sunny day, a working car, a walk in the woods, a release of tears, a great book, a quiet moment to pray, shoes on my feet.
What if it wasn’t just a good meal it was a God sign? What if it wasn’t just an accident avoided it was a God sign? A beautiful tree, a brand new baby, a moving song, a phone call from a friend…all God signs.
What if I recognized the signs of God in my life the way my kids see NASCAR signs? Not just for what they are but for what they point to. What is sponsored by God in my everyday life? What in the physical reminds me of the spiritual?
If God has taught me anything through this phase it’s that you don’t have to look the part, have the right “tools” or grow up a certain way to start seeking Him relentlessly. In the process of claiming Him we find out that He is the one who claimed us first, since the beginning of time.
Some days we need a sign, don’t we? We need a reminder in the midst of the chaos or monotony that He is a real and living God, woven into the fabric of our days and always at work, speaking and moving. Even in the mundane. Even in the busyness. Even in the brokenness and hopelessness.
Maybe your introduction to God started small–like the intrigue of a diecast race car. Maybe experiencing Him through the power of the Holy Spirit for the first time was like my kids experiencing a race firsthand and being completely overcome by it.
Because we can learn facts and ask questions and memorize information about Jesus but it’s when we encounter and experience the excitement of what He is up to that it goes from our heads to our hearts. We become unable to separate our world from His being because He is everything to us and everywhere we look.
**This post wasn’t sponsored by anyone, no products were received in exchanged for writing about NASCAR (or any of it’s drivers), M&M’s, Tide, Aquafina, McDonald’s, UPS or Pepsi.**
This blog IS a ministry of Re:source Global, a 501c3 ministry. For more information on Re:source Global please go to www.resourceglobal.org.