Final Exam: The Death of Dale Earnhardt

Chevrolet. Nascar. No.3. The Intimidator. The Man in black. In the word association game, any racing fan knows what comes next - Dale Earnhardt. The finest stock car driver the world has ever seen was tragically killed in a crash at Daytona speedway. Many questions remain: were rule changes too much? Did they violate safety? What if Earnhardt had used some of the newer safety equipment? Would he have lived to race again? No one knows.

In any sport, there is always one person who stands far above the rest. Joe Montana, Michael Jordon, Tiger Woods, A.J. Foyt - and for stock cars, Dale Earnhardt. I’ve always been a sports fan; racing is one of my favorites. For many years I watched Indy car racing with its premier driver Rick Mears. But after the CART split, I found myself drawn to stock cars. And naturally, I was a big fan of Dale Earnhardt (as all the grandkids know because they would get black No.3 toy cars for Christmas)

  • he could do things with a race car no one else could. He dominated the field - everyone else just raced for second place.

And now, just as talk was beginning about Dale winning the Winston Cup championship this year, he’s gone.

The fans are shocked. Dale was the best - none come close.

There have been deaths in stock car racing before (too many), but somehow Earnhardt seemed beyond that. Perhaps that’s the problem - Dale seemed almost immortal. His driving skill was so far beyond everyone else he didn’t seem human - people just can’t do what he could do with a car. Looking over the tribute sites, the memorabilia and photos that have flooded the internet recently, I came across one with Earnhardt leaning against his car, wearing his trademark dark sunglasses. The caption read “Earnhardt seems casual before the race.” That made me pause.

Why wouldn’t he be?

After all, he’d been racing for decades. He was the best of the best. It seemed the person writing the caption was trying to imply something else

  • Dale should have been apprehensive about the race. But of course he had no idea what would take place later that day. Saying goodbye to his wife before sliding through the window into the car, neither of them had any idea it would be the last time.

That’s the problem. We have no idea how long we have on this earth. Dale’s death was a tragic reminder of the fact we must not take our time for granted - we all have an appointed time to die. Jesus spoke of just that error.

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. “And he thought within himself, saying, ’What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ “So he said, ’I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. ’And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ’Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’(Luke 12:16-20 NKJV)

But there is a much more important point here. I could spend lots of time talking about quantum physics, relativity and such and prove to you your life doesn’t end at death (but won’t take the time). The point is, you are eternal whether you want to be or not. The only question is, where will you spend it? Each of us has an appointed time for our final exam, but are we ready? That test will only have one question:

What do you think of Jesus?

That’s it. Do you accept Jesus as your Lord and savior, or do you reject Him? It’s your choice. Dale Earnhardt has taken his final exam - I don’t know if he passed or not; I never met him, just admired his driving abilities. But for each of us a final exam waits, and you can’t escape that fact - but you can be prepared.

Life. There will be a final exam. Are you ready?

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