After 600 miles and just enough fuel left in his tank, Austin Dillon won the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday night – his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of his career. 

Dillon drove the No. 3 Chevrolet into Victory Lane for the first time since the late Dale Earnhardt won his last race on October 15, 2000.

Being a significant win for Dillon (grandson of owner Richard Childress), he made this comment following the race: “I can’t believe it. I was just really focused on those last laps. My fiancée wrote in the car, ‘When you keep God in first place, He will take you places you never imagined.’”

This race was about surviving until the end, and Dillon won despite only leading the final two laps. On the other hand, Martin Truex Jr. led the race for 233 laps (the most among all of the drivers), but ended up finishing third.

When the guy who wins the race only leads for a lap or two, there is a sense that he doesn’t quite deserve the win as much as the driver who leads most of the night. He just seems to sneak in at the end to take the checkered flag.

The parable in the Bible about vineyard workers, which Jesus uses to explain the Kingdom of Heaven, relates well to this NASCAR scenario.

In Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus speaks of a landowner who hires workers early in the morning and then adds others to the group at different times throughout the day.

When they are all set to be paid at the end of the day, “each received a full day’s wage” – regardless of what time of day they were hired. As a result, the workers who came first weren’t happy to be paid the same as those who came last.

In verse 12, their response to the owner is this: “Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.”

The owner then responds in verse 13, “…Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?”

This parable points to the grace of God and reminds us that we receive the same grace – regardless of what time in our lives we accept the call to follow Jesus.

Instead of being jealous that someone receives victory and eternity, despite only following Jesus for the last “couple of laps” in their life, we need to remain thankful that they too receive the wonderful gift of salvation.

None of us actually deserve the mercy of God, but He generously gives it nonetheless. It’s not fair for any of us to receive heaven, when you consider our sinful nature, but God has made a way for us to be with Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Today let’s celebrate the grace and mercy of God, and not get caught up in unfairness or jealousy about who and when He decides to give. I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I know I don’t deserve Your grace and mercy, but sometimes I’m guilty of thinking I’ve earned it more than someone else. Forgive me for this mentality, and help me to remain thankful for the salvation You’ve given me. I pray for those who don’t know You yet, and believe they can even come to know You in their final hour. I pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen.