HOW GOD USED JEFF GORDON TO CHANGE MY PRAYER LIFE – Pt. 1

Good morning, all.

Back in the late 70’s I had the opportunity to go to the New York State Fairgrounds and watch some races.  There was a motorcycle race, a Modified race, and a snowmobile race.

I am sorry to say, I was not impressed.

That is why, when my husband was given tickets for the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Watkins Glen, I did not want to go.  In fact, I pouted during the whole 3 hour drive to get there.

But, when we got there, I began to fall in love.

Now, I have 4 older brothers, all of whom had an obsession with cars growing up.  That is not to say that I really learned anything about cars, but I did gain an appreciation for the Muscle car — from the aesthetics of paint, chrome and mag wheels to the deep, throaty roar of all that horsepower.

One close up look at those brightly colored racecars and it took me back to days of pencil drawings of Corvettes, Camaros, ’57 Chevies and Chevy IIs colored with flames of fire and tacked on the boys’ bedroom walls.

And when they were given the command to start engines and the deafening roar of 43 racecars revving up filled the air, I was hooked.  All that noise was music to my ears.

I knew absolutely nothing about NASCAR; had never watched a race on TV.  I remember my dad watching every once in a while on a Sunday afternoon; but his normal viewing was of football, baseball or basketball.

There was one driver, however, that I had heard of enough to know he was a Christian that talked freely of his faith.  A couple family members were fans of his and so I decided he was the one that I was going to follow.

I did not realize at that point that Jeff Gordon was basically public enemy #1 when it came to NASCAR fans; and I could not understand when the entire crowd booed him at the beginning of the race.

I won’t go into my thoughts on the reasons for their dislike, just say that there were some vicious rumors out there, none of which were true to my knowledge.  The worst of those rumors was started as a joke by the favored driver that Jeff’s haters took and ran with, turning it into a widely believed lie.

Even now, I know of people that refuse to let go of that lie because the clean-shaven kid from California had the audacity to come into NASCAR and beat their driver.

Anyway, as my husband used to say, that race created a monster.  I watched and recorded every show on TV that I could find about the sport, trying to learn as much as I could.

And during that viewing, I grew to like Jeff more and more.  He spoke openly about his faith in God, his relationship to Jesus Christ.  He even had his testimony posted on his website.

It was only after I had really developed a liking for the guy that things fell apart.

A couple years after that first race, news came out that Jeff’s wife had filed for divorce due to his infidelity.

I was devastated.

I think the reason his actions hurt me so badly was because I had been through the same thing only a few years earlier and could not understand how he could put his wife through what I had been through while talking about his faith.

He was supposed to be a Christian.  He was supposed to know that adultery was wrong.  He was supposed to be above that type of behavior.

I had essentially put him on a pedestal in my thinking and then discovered he actually was human just like the rest of us.

As I dealt with the news, I began to hear the rumors about his personal life, especially the one that was started as a joke.  And with each rumor, I began to ask God how I was supposed to react.

If the rumors were true, I was going to turn my back on him and stop supporting him.  I remember one day standing in our spare room, the room where I kept all of my Gordon memorabilia, telling myself that if he was the person people were saying, I would throw away all the things that filled the shelves.

It would mean a lot of money down the drain.  Not so much my money as that of the people that had bought me most of what I had.  But I talked to those people, and they agreed with me, that if he was the type of person everyone said, I should get rid of the things.

I was angry and felt like I had been betrayed.  It was like reliving my past personal pain all over again.  And that anger and feeling of betrayal turned quickly into judgment.

Every little act of aggression he made during a race, I would think; “Well, there you have it.  I won’t support him anymore if that is the way he is going to be.”  And when other drivers would retaliate, or wreck him, I would think, “Serves you right.”

Ahhh…not very Christ-like or loving, right?

And so started my lessons in understanding and forgiveness.

I’ll tell you about those in my next post.

© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2012

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19 thoughts on “HOW GOD USED JEFF GORDON TO CHANGE MY PRAYER LIFE – Pt. 1

    • I don’t know, Karin. I realized even as I was angry that it was not really my business what he did, but that didn’t stop the anger until the Lord took me by the heart and shook me a little. Thank God, He did — this whole episode opened my eyes (and heart) to learning about compassion and understanding and forgiveness. It is still something I find I need reminders of sometimes, but it was a lesson that needed learning.

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      • Yes, Dru, we need to be less condemning (that’s not our job anyway) and more loving. We need to do less putting on the pedestal and more keeping the feet on the ground as we remember mistakes will be made, we are human. Then again, if we profess to be one of His children, if we allow His Spirit to work in us, we will walk beside Him in obedience.

        Thanks for the great thoughts.
        Keep the Faith!

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  1. I feel so betrayed by those who “transgress” ;-( That (unfortunately) keeps me distanced from religion. Not a good excuse, but i see so much hypocrisy. Maybe even where there is none? You are my teacher:-)

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    • Melis, I have heard so many people say that. But, I have learned through this and other experiences that our relationship with God is between us and Him. It should not be based on someone else’s life or actions.

      Yes, there are those that profess to be Christians that live a life that seems hypocritical and wrong; but we don’t know their hearts. Only God knows the heart of a man. Which is why He used Jeff to teach me a lesson on judging. He is the only One, other than the person in question, that knows the heart and is the only One that has the authority to judge. That is the lesson I learned through all of this.

      Please, don’t let someone else’s life or actions be a barrier between you and God. Let Him deal with them – because He will, eventually. All you have to do is decide whether you want Him in your life as Lord and Savior. He loves you – enough that He was willing for His Son to die for you.

      We are all sinners in need of saving and Jesus is the only Way to get that salvation. Jeff’s sins are no different, no worse than anyone else’s, and I was wrong to stand in judgment, regardless of my thoughts and past pain.

      Let me ask you a question — If you had a friend that cheated on their spouse, would you turn away from your own spouse because of it? Of course not. Their marriage is between them, and an outsider should not be in their relationship. So, why would you use someone’s cheating on God (for that is what the ‘hypocrites’ are actually doing) as an excuse to turn away from Him? Their life should not be an influence on your relationship with Him, the same as a friend’s marriage should not influence your own.

      Does that make sense? I truly hope so.

      And don’t think of a relationship with Him as “having religion” because that is not what it is all about. A relationship with Him is the only way to get to heaven, and it is also His way of reaching you and bringing you into his family.

      HE DOES LOVE YOU and is waiting with open arms to welcome you into His family. All you have to do, all anyone has to do, is seek Him with an open, honest heart. If any of this doesn’t make sense, read the articles under You Must Be Born Again up in the header.

      Thank you Melis, for your thoughts, for the laughter and encouragment that you give so often. You are a dear, dear friend.

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      • Drusilla, i’m spelling your name in a different manner all the time. It is with an “s” not “c” correct. JEESH. I appreciate all the time you take to answer my feeble questions. I think what i mean to say is that i expect a lot from God. If people are free to be full of faults (cheat on wives, etc.) it is easier to say, if we aren’t held to high standards: Godlike standards, then people are easier to accept and forgive. Especially the people who are shoving Their Godliness down our throats like this race car driver. I get very mad when someone who professes to be His follower does horrible damage to another human. That is really atrocious to me. And that makes me sort of a “bad” believer or incorrect believer in God?

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  2. Drusilla, I enjoyed reading your post. I don’t know much about Jeff Gordon, but I can relate to you in what you experienced. Growing up, I looked up to many christian adults who made some bad decisions in their life. It hurt me as I relied on them to set a good example for me. God taught me not to base my faith on people, but Him. When a person’s imperfect behavior hurt me, I learned to fully focus on God’s perfect behavior and ask Him to show me how to respond.

    I look forward to reading more of you your story and what God taught you in your situation!

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  3. I’ve been a Jeff Gordon fan since he started racing. I could tell he had a lot of talent, and I thought he was very likable. He had a rough patch, like most of us do. We don’t know the details, we know what the media tells us. Not that I really want to know…looking forward to your follow-up article.

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    • Patti, I am glad to find a fellow fan. 🙂 I learned through this whole episode that people will believe and repeat what they want, regardless of the truth – even the media. We can never know the heart of another person, only God does; and the Lord really took me to task for my jumping to conclusions without evidence.

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  4. Pingback: WHAT DO WE DO WHEN GOD ASKS US TO PRAY? | Drusilla Mott

  5. I am a young man in my mid-20s. I have been a fan of Jeff Gordon’s since before my adolescent years. One of the constants that has remained in my life through all my developmental years has been rooting for Jeff Gordon every weekend. Needless to say, he is about as special to me as a celebrity figure can be to someone…..I think this brings into question the very nature of celebrities into our lives.

    While I too experienced shock and disappointment over Gordon’s divorce and reports of infidelity, I never dwelled on them much because I was always more concerned with how Jeff and the 24 team would perform the next weekend. As someone who was just entering their teens at the time, did that make me naive? Blinded? Probably. But it makes sense. My faith is personal to me and the people I have close relationships with. It’s apart of my life that is, and always has been, unrelated and unaffected by Jeff Gordon.

    I don’t think Jeff Gordon is a bad guy and so I do not feel guilty about remaining a loyal fan over the years, despite his infidelity. For whatever reason, his first marriage wasn’t right and he made a disappointing mistake and showed weakness and a lack of character….he is a flawed human being. He seems to have found the right woman now, however, and has a family that he adores. Winning seems more special to him now than ever. Gordon has also done a lot of charity work and even has his own children’s hospital; I would encourage you to check it out. That seems to be his passion and mission from God.

    While rooting for the 24 has exposed me to my great passion for auto racing, given me great entertainment, great joys……it has also given me great disappointment. Gordon has been continuously outran by his teammate Jimmie Johnson and has experienced more than his fair share of bizarre incidents and bad luck over the years.

    Learning how to deal with this disappointment and how to put it in perspective has been the most challenging aspect for me. And I work with God to do that and to find more fulfilling aspects in my own life, rather than having my hopes wrapped up in a race on TV that I have nothing to do with.

    Perspective and concentrating on my own personal life and what I can control. This is what I am currently seeking with our Lord and Savior. It’s a work in progress.

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    • Hi Matt,

      Thank you so much for stopping in and taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings. I really appreciate meeting another true Jeff Gordon fan.

      I am not sure if you read parts 2 & 3 of this article but if you haven’t I encourage you to click on the word NASCAR in the CATEGORY list to the left and read them.

      I would not have thought that a celebrity could really have an influence on my faith, even while acknowledging that the reason I like Jeff is because of his faith; but God truly used Jeff to strengthen my faith in a way that will last my entire lifetime.

      If you read parts 2 & 3, you will see how God brought me out of my judgmental anger and grew my caring for Jeff into something that I still feel to this day.

      I agree with you. Jeff Gordon is a nice guy – from his respectful and courteous driving on the track (most of the time 😉 ) to his foundation and his concern for sick children off the track. The more I see of him, the more I like him.

      And I also understand your disappointment when he has a bad race. I think I used to be more upset over his finishes than he did – and I eventually learned to take my cue from his reaction. If he was understanding of the circumstances, how could I be upset over them?

      God has also helped me see that Jeff has had his success, and while he still may win races and possibly another championship, it just seems to be someone else’s turn for winning. Jimmie won’t continue to win all the time, and then someone else will have their own ‘era’. I just have to be thankful that I got to witness some of Jeff’s dominance while it lasted.

      Thank you again Matt for sharing your thoughts here. I hope you will continue to stop in and share your feelings on future posts. My prayers will be with you as you continue to work and grow in your faith. None of us are where we really should be in our faith — it will continue to be a work in progress for each of us until we are called Home.

      God bless.

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