Pinewood Derby


My son Gilbert was eight years old and had been in Cub Scouts
only a short time. During one of his meetings he was handed a
sheet of paper, a block of wood and four tires and told to
return home and give all to "dad".

That was not an easy task for Gilbert to do. Dad was not
receptive to doing things with his son. But Gilbert tried. Dad
read the paper and scoffed at the idea of making a pine wood
derby car with his young, eager son. The block of wood
remained untouched as the weeks passed.

Finally, mom stepped in to see if I could figure this all out.
The project began. Having no carpentry skills, I decided it
would be best if I simply read the directions and let Gilbert
do the work. And he did. I read aloud the measurements, the
rules of what we could do and what we couldn't do.

Within days his block of wood was turning into a pinewood
derby car. A little lopsided, but looking great (at least
through the eyes of mom). Gilbert had not seen any of the
other kids' cars and was feeling pretty proud of his "Blue
Lightning"; the pride that comes with knowing you did
something on your own.

Then the big night came. With his blue pinewood derby in his
hand and pride in his heart we headed to the big race. Once
there my little one's pride turned to humility. Gilbert's car
was obviously the only car made entirely on his own. All the
other cars were a father-son partnership, with cool paint
jobs and sleek body styles made for speed.

A few of the boys giggled as they looked at Gilbert's lopsided,
wobbly, unattractive vehicle. To add to the humility, Gilbert
was the only boy without a man at his side. A couple of the
boys who were from single parent homes at least had an uncle
or grandfather by their side, Gilbert had "mom".

As the race began it was done in elimination fashion. You kept
racing as long as you were the winner. One by one the cars
raced down the finely sanded ramp. Finally it was between
Gilbert and the sleekest, fastest looking car there. As the
last race was about to begin, my wide eyed, shy eight-year-old
asked if they could stop the race for a minute, because he
wanted to pray. The race stopped.

Gilbert went to his knees clutching his funny looking block of
wood between his hands. With a wrinkled brow he set to converse
with his Father. He prayed in earnest for a very long minute and
a half. Then he stood, smile on his face and announced, 'Okay,
I am ready."

As the crowd cheered, a boy named Tommy stood with his father
as their car sped down the ramp. Gilbert stood with his Father
within his heart and watched his block of wood wobble down the
ramp with surprisingly great speed and rushed over the finish
line a fraction of a second before Tommy's car.

Gilbert leaped into the air with a loud "Thank You" as the
crowd roared in approval. The Scout Master came up to Gilbert
with microphone in hand and asked the obvious question, "So
you prayed to win, huh, Gilbert?"

To which my young son answered, "Oh, no sir. That wouldn't be
fair to ask God to help you beat someone else. I just asked
Him to make it so I wouldn't cry when I lost."

Children seem to have a wisdom far beyond us. Gilbert didn't
ask God to win the race, he didn't ask God to fix the outcome.
Gilbert asked God to give him strength in the outcome. When
Gilbert first saw the other cars he didn't cry out to God,
"No fair, they had a father's help!". No, he went to his
Father for strength. Perhaps we spend too much of our prayer
time asking God to rig the race, to make us number one, or
too much time asking God to remove us from the struggle,
when we should be seeking God's strength to get through
the struggle. "I can do everything through Him who gives me
strength." Philippians 4:13

Gilbert's simple prayer spoke volumes to those present that
night. He never doubted that God would indeed answer his
request. He didn't pray to win, thus hurt someone else, he
prayed that God would supply the grace to lose with dignity.
Gilbert, by his stopping the race to speak to his Father also
showed the crowd that he wasn't there without a "dad", but
His Father was most definitely there with him. Yes, Gilbert
walked away a winner that night, with his Father at his side.

May we all learn to pray this way.

~ Author Unknown ~

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