Luke 15:1, 2
One local newspaper headline shouted the challenge: “The Big Test” and tomorrow was that day! Scores of race drivers had converged at the New Hampshire International Speedway to take on that challenge, and to compete in the 200 grueling laps of one of NASCAR’s best known races. At only nineteen years of age, Adam Petty was NASCAR racing’s first fourth generation driver, and he seemed like a natural. It was “in his genes” many often remarked; his great-grandfather had raced car # 42, his grandfather had raced car # 43, and his father had raced NASCAR # 44. And now, hundreds of eyes were fixed on car # 45, the blue and red Chevrolet driven by young Petty, as it streaked down the straightaway in pursuit of a qualifying time. Anticipation was high that day for the youngest of the Petty racing tradition.
But today would bring the unexpected; another kind of test one not anticipated by the newspaper headline. As Petty’s car ran practice laps prior to race qualification, something went wrong. It appeared minor at first. Rounding Turn 3 at nearly 130 mph, Petty’s car, the Sprint, brushed the track wall. Apparently unable to recover, the car spun out and then crashed into the wall at tremendous speed! “I knew it was a hard hit,” said one spectator, “…then the whole place went silent… “
Rescue and fire crews at the scene worked for 20 minutes to free Adam Petty from the wreck, finally cutting through the roof to get him out. Sadly, hours later at a nearby hospital, the youngest of the Petty heritage died of severe head injury. “It’s real hard…” remarked one Petty employee, “…time cuts so short. You just never know!” One NASCAR driver confided honestly: “We all know when we leave pit row, we may not come back. I thank God every night I’m alive. Tonight I’ll thank Him twice.”
At only age nineteen, Adam Petty went into God’s eternity that May 12th Friday, both unexpectedly and prematurely, his time “cut so short.” I trust the family’s faith, spoken of at his funeral, was also his own personal saving faith in Christ.
And so is the case of life; none of us knows when our time will come to leave this world either. This leads to the question if time were to be “cut so short” for you, are you prepared to meet a holy God today? Our verse in Luke 15:2 thrills me! Speaking of the Lord Jesus, the people of that day reported what they saw: “This Man receiveth sinners…” I’m so glad that God’s Word says it’s so! It seems to me then that the biggest test of one’s life will not be determined on a racetrack. Rather it is this: Since God has said the Lord Jesus will receive you, will you receive Him?
Rely on God’s Son today as the personal Savior of your soul. He has paid the ultimate price when as the sinner’s substitute, He bore sin’s penalty and God’s wrath on the cross. He suffered and died, the Just in place of the unjust; and today waits with arms wide-open to receive you, the sinner. The big test is, will you receive Him?