Rev. Jim Jack’s Latest Straight Line Column

 “A Smile Is The Shortest Distance Between Two People”

A simple smile can break down barriers within the realm of human relationships. Fortunately for most humans, a smile is the best and easiest way to communicate your fondness or your love for another person. And a smile is normally our seal of approval for anything that meets our fancy—or literally turns us on.

For me, the sights and sounds of drag racing have been bringing on plenty of smiles for almost six decades. It’s just something that reaches down within my soul and delights me to no end. The Bible says “God will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NIV), and for me—and millions of others including you—just the thought of drag racing stimulates the internal juices and the external actions.

Before following Jesus, Linda and I had quite a few close friends, and we all smiled a lot (do you wonder why?), but once we began following Christ, these folks soon drifted away from us. This distance of separation hurt for a while, until we understood why.
The love and light of Christ, now smiling in our home made them feel uncomfortable. In God’s mercy, He replaced the few and brought us a few hundred new smiling believers into our lives, shorting the distance between people who previously did not know one another.

Think about it: A nitro fed engine is fired up in the pits. This pit area is surrounded by many eager fans who simply love hearing ten thousand horses thundering a few feet away. The fumes are pungent and your nose and throat burn, your eyes are tearing up, and your ears are ringing, pounding, and itching—and with a big smile on your face—you’re in love with what is taking place.
There are no frowns (maybe some gagging), but even with your senses being tested to their limit, there are still smiles on the faces of everyone enjoying the warm-up procedure. After the engine is shut off, everyone looks around at each other, and you can’t help but flash a big smile. The experience brings like people together for a minute or two and closes the gap between strangers. A smile is the shortest distance between two (or more) people.

If you were told you would never be able to smile at the racetrack, how long could you go before you threw up your hands and said, “I’m out of here, I can’t do this!” Racing would no longer be interesting if you couldn’t have fun…out in the sun…making or watching a run…eating a sandwich on a bun…where power is rated by the ton…better than shooting a gun…when you exclaim we won! We won!

Love is another human activity that brings on the most intimate of smiles. Two people gawking at each other with their heart rates increasing, and hormones revving on high! A simple smile has a natural euphoric effect. A smile is the shortest distance between two people.

The love of drag racing and other kinds of motorsports is all about enjoyment and happiness. The racing game brings out the best in many people. Fans don’t go to the races to be unhappy and not have fun. On the contrary, a day at the races should be a time of wonderment and excitement. A day at the races truly brings on a heavenly smile.

Have you ever witnessed a world record run and not smiled? Of course not, as you were designed to express your joy with a smile as your seal of approval. Speaking of a seal of approval, recently we baptized Clint & Danette Thompson (TAFC) at the drag races. There was an incredibly beautiful sunset during the baptism—God’s seal of approval. The Bible says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 2:38 NIV). During the baptism you could hear a fuel funny car roaring down the track. Pretty hard not to smile when you are baptizing two of your best friends at the races with God’s beauty shining on you.
A racing term says, “The motor was happy.” A happy motor brings a smile to the crew chief during and after a good run. I’m sure the driver knew the motor was happy as the machine was pulling hard all the way down the track.

If the motor was happy, smiles are abundant with the crew which in turn brings them all close together as they know their team work resulted in abundant fruit for their labor. Even exhausted crew members smile as they closely work together rebuilding a happy motor, hoping it is happy once again during the next run.

Flashing a big smile is good…closing the distance between people as it should…please give it a try if you would…the importance of a smile needs to be understood…its ranks up there with putting the throttle to the wood!

Think of some famous celebrations you have witnessed recently. When the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, the glowing smiles reached out and grabbed anyone within range during their celebration, including millions watching the celebrations on TV. The atmosphere was electric with happiness and joy…it wasn’t a ploy…not contained to just a boy…just to hoist a trophy-like toy.
So, if a smile is the shortest distance between two people, what does it take for you to radiate a great big smile? Remembering your wedding? Remembering the birth of your children? Remembering your last win? Winning the World Championship? No burnt pistons? No rods out the side of the block? Witnessing a horrific crash then seeing your best friend climb out of the wreckage and walk away?

The Bible is full of stories where a smile brought two people (or more) closer together. Mary and Joseph knew sometime after Jesus was born, their smiles of His birth would eventually bridge the gap between God and untold millions of people. God would smile upon His born again children and bring many—in the lost race of humanity—back into a true relationship with their heavenly Father.

Think of the smiles when so many of the disciples witnessed seeing Jesus after His resurrection. “After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living,” (1Corinthians 15:6 NIV). That incredible sight is what brought the Christian family extremely close together, and has been doing the same thing for two thousand years.

There is a family saying, “Blood is thicker than water.” Well in God’s kingdom, there is an eternal saying, “Baptismal water is thicker that blood.” A smile from a fellow follower of Christ brings two or more people closer together for an eternal friendship than two blood relatives who are not believers in Christ.

There’s always been a special camaraderie between those who live, eat, and breathe drag racing. There’s an even more special camaraderie between those who live, eat, and breathe following Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The racing community hangs together while its people live in the world. The godly community hangs together not only in the world, but will be together for eternity with their Creator.

Motorsports unites people of like minds and interests. Christianity unites people of like minds and interests. Motorsports unites people who have a need for speed. Christianity unites people who have a reason for the season. Motorsports unites people who have a love for excitement. Christianity unites people who have a love for eternity.

“A smile costs nothing, but it creates much. It enriches those who receive it without impoverishing those who give it. It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and natures best antidote for trouble. It cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is no earthly good until it is given away. For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!” (Anonymous)

Picture this personal scenario of mine: Jesus was in pain and agony while He was suffering on the cross, but “For the joy set before Him,” He smiles, and says to John the beloved, “Here is your mother.” To all the people watching, He smiles and says, “Father forgive them.” To the thief on the cross, He smiles and says, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” And looking up smiling at His Father He says, “It is finished.” And with a smile bridging the gap between God and mankind, He breathed His last. This smile had to blow the minds of all who witnessed the thrill of victory on that cross!

My friends, an infectious smile…can appear wide as a mile…it’s always in style…never meant to be vile…something a child can easily dial…stretching farther than the Nile…always better if it lasts a long while…it has no pretentious guile…it’s okay to heap them in a big pile…so please give a gracious and godly grin an honest trial.

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