Tony Stewart Tragedy

Current events have a way of making me sad lately. It seems to be overwhelmingly bad news with wars, rumors of wars, abuse, suicides, and tragic deaths. In the world or car racing, one of NASCAR’s stars, Tony Stewart, was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in a non-NASCAR racing event on August 9th that took the life of a young man.

The autopsy of Kevin Ward Jr. revealed he had marijuana in his system at the time of his death and the grand jury must have decided it impaired his judgment as he jumped out of his vehicle, walked on the race track toward Stewart’s car which was still racing at a high speed, and was struck by Stewart’s vehicle. That fatal blow ended Ward’s life and the ruling by the grand jury yesterday ended six weeks of not knowing whether Tony Stewart of NASCAR fame would be charged with murder or some type of crime in this sad incident.

Driving under the influence is never a good idea. I would think it is an especially bad idea for race car drivers to be impaired while driving at extremely high rates of speed. Marijuana slows down one’s motor skills and reactions which would need to be at optimum capacity in a car race like the one on August 9th. Any drug impairs one’s ability to think clearly and to make wise decisions. Like the picture above, it blurs the driver’s vision so that they cannot see clearly.

September has been called “National Recovery Month” for the 25th year now. The idea is to bring awareness to the problems of drugs and alcohol that plague our society and to promote sobriety, or recovery. While I like the word “recovery,” a more biblical word for the proper goal of a Christ-follower is “transformation” because that’s what God promises us in 2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 12:2, and 2 Cor. 3:18. God wants us to see Him clearly by His Spirit.

And here’s another reason why I like the biblical teaching of “transformation” better than “recovery” applied to the Tony Stewart tragedy: while “recovery” would have saved young Kevin Ward Jr.’s physical life, “transformation” would have provided him with eternal life with Christ if he was not a believer trusting in the finished work of Jesus. To me, that is added tragedy to an already tragic circumstance. Pray for the remaining family members of Kevin Ward Jr.

As September winds down and as believers hear more stories of tragedy connected to substance abuse, think about ways to share the Gospel and message of hope through transformation in Christ for those enslaved to any type of “addiction.”

-Pastor Mark Shaw (weeping over sin and death but rejoicing that God has given us a way through Christ to see clearly and to experience eternal bliss!)

Mark Shaw
Mark Shaw has 22 years of counseling experience working in a variety of settings including faith-based residential programs, dealing with issues surrounding “addictions” of all types, and supervising staff positions. His experience in the biblical counseling field began in 2001. He has written 14 published works including The Heart of Addiction; Relapse: Biblical Prevention Strategies; Divine Intervention: Hope and Help for Families of Addicts; Addiction-Proof Parenting; and Hope and Help for Self-Injurers/Cutters. He also co-authored a chapter in Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling (2013).