NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When Frank Lewis got up Feb. 25 to address an estimated 7,500 racing fans attending a memorial service at the Gaylord Entertainment Center for racing legend Dale Earnhardt, he readily admitted he did not know much about him other than what he had read or heard.
“But I do know something about Dale Earnhardt’s God,” said Lewis, pastor of First Baptist Church Nashville, Tenn.
Lewis reminded racing fans that Earnhardt was not in heaven because he had 676 Winston Cup starts in his career or because he had seven Winston Cup championships and 76 wins.
He’s not in heaven because he had 281 Top 5 finishes or 428 Top 10 finishes, or because he had winnings of more than $41 million, Lewis continued.
“He’s in heaven today because he said, ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior,” Lewis shared.
He noted he had heard the idea being spread that God bumped Dale Earnhardt and pushed him into that wall at the Daytona 500.
“God loved Dale Earnhardt more than that. He loved his family more than that. And, God loves you more than that.
“The truth is we live in a world where bad things happen to good people all the time. Dale was a good man, but the air coming off the cars around him, the risks of driving 180 miles an hour, the physics of an immovable wall, the possible faulty seat belt -0 all these things resulted in a terrible loss.”
Lewis said he knew that many of Earnhardt’s fans are in mourning and are asking why God would take their hero.
“It’s possible we will never get a suitable answer,” the pastor admitted, but he shared with them how they could one day see Earnhardt once again.
“There are some of you in this room who have not made the decision that your hero, Dale Earnhardt made.
“You’ve heard about God, but he’s not a reality in your heart. There’s never been a time in your life when you asked him to forgive you of your sins, to come into your heart, to change your life.
“If Dale Earnhardt could say one thing to you tonight, he’d say, ‘do it. Don’t miss heaven. It’s the greatest place you’ve ever dreamed of. Don’t miss the opportunity to be here.'”
Lewis related that as a young boy, when Earnhardt’s father was racing on weekends, his aunt and uncle would take him to Sunday school. “There he learned that God loved him.”
One way to deal with this loss is to follow Earnhardt’s example,” Lewis said.
“Being in Sunday School next week might not be a bad way to commemorate Dale Earnhardt,” Lewis suggested.
Lewis said he first heard about the planned memorial for Earnhardt on Feb. 21.
“My first thought was that I hoped someone would be able to share the Gospel,” Lewis said.
Later that morning when he arrived at his office Lewis received a call from church member Kyle Cantrell, an employee of WSM radio, one of the event’s sponsors.
“They were looking for a pastor to deliver a devotional and asked if I would be willing, he recalled. “I was excited about the opportunity.”
The memorial service included tributes from friends and music from performers Vince Gill, Steve Wariner, and Yankee Grey.