I’ll start by acknowledging that I’m not a huge racing fan. As a kid however, I loved watching the likes of David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and of course, Richard Petty scream around the track. Yes I’m dating myself a bit here. Actually, it wasn’t so much the racing around the track that caught my interest. My interest was peaked in the waiting for that inevitable crash, the hope of a gut wrenching photo finish, and how the pit stops impacted the race, particularly the unscheduled ones (sometimes caused by those crashes).
If you think about it, the trajectory of our lives, can be much like a NASCAR race. Much of it is spent going around and around, often at high speeds. We’re so focused on what’s immediately in front of us, that we miss so much of what’s going on around us. We spend our time striving for a destination, rather than taking in the journey. We’re not happy when our neighbor seems to be passing us by and getting ahead of us on the track. And we can get downright distraught if our pace slows, impeding our progress and leaving our results to fall below expectations. When watching a NASCAR race, it can appear that one lap looks just like that last…and the next. Our days can often feel like that too.
As in most all motorsports, crashes in our lives will come. They’ll come in the form of illness or disappointment in vocation or relationships. They’ll come in the form of financial setbacks, prodigal children, lost jobs and lost loved ones. I’m sure that each of you reading this, has found yourself in one of these crashes. If you haven’t, hold fast…you will. Jesus tells us so in John 16:33.
Both of these aspects of “the race” carry significant impact on our lives. How we navigate each day, as we go around the track is important to the direction of our journey. If we don’t pay attention, we can get “off track” which can lead to crashes. How we come through those crashes is of course, critical. Crashes can leave a life long impact on so many aspects of our lives, from physical to emotional and spiritual. We can however, overcome them, in some cases coming out the other side, better than when we went in. Sometimes that takes time and work, but greater victory after a crash is possible. Read Job 42:10-17
Perhaps most interesting, or most worth noting, are the pitstops. While pitstops in both car racing and life are inevitable and critically important, they are (and probably should be) vastly different. In car racing (with occasional exceptions) pitstops are painstakingly planned. From when to make the stop, to every detail that occurs during it, these scheduled detours are orchestrated, rehearsed and rehearsed again, prior to actual execution. There is no room for variance or slip ups. The NASCAR pitstop is not a place where the Holy Spirit is allowed to do His best, on the spot work!
Life’s pitstops however, can and typically should, have a very different look. First of all, they are often unplanned. Even those that are planned can bring a very different result than expected. Our pitstops (job and relationship changes, and changes in health or finances) often come with little or no warning. They can boost us to a mountaintop, or knock us off our feet as we fall into a valley. Our pitstops can propel us forward down the track, or knock us into the wall wreaking havoc and destruction.
Ours is to decide what we’re going to do while we’re in the pit, even if that time in the pit (our pitstop) is filled with joy and success. If it brings with it, elevation and promotion where everything we touch seems to turn to gold, we must ask ourselves, “what am I to do with this pitstop? How do I share this good fortune with those around me. The good fortune may be in the form of material wealth, but it may also come in the form of time, wisdom or renewed health. Whatever form it takes, God looks for us to be a river, allowing that blessing to flow through us, rather than a lake, that keeps it dammed up within it’s boundaries.
If our stop in the pit is one of challenge and heartache, we still should seek what it is God wants to do with us in that season. It may be a time for us to learn something new, a time to seek Him in deeper ways. It may simply be a time He’s making for us to gain some much needed rest. I don’t know the pitstops of life you’ve encountered, whether you’re in one right now and if so, what that looks like. I do know however, that pitstops (like all things in life) come for a reason; they’re not coincidence and what we do in the midst of them, can have a significant impact on what happens on the other side of them. Read about the lives of Joseph (Gen 37,39-47), Saul (1 Samuel 13:1-14), Elijah (1 Kings 17-18), Ruth (book of Ruth) or Paul (Acts 9, 13-28) for examples of how our response to pitstops, can impact how the rest of our race turns out.
One last thought. Your pitstop, while certainly involving you, may not be about you. Philippians 2:3 says: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vein conceit, but in humility, consider others as more important than yourselves”. Whether our pitstop is an exhilarating burst of blessing and favor, or a dark valley filled with fear and uncertainty, keeping this scripture in front of us and living it out, can result in us getting back on the track more quickly, and with less damage done. One thing that can be said about NASCAR pitstops is that what happens there is deliberate, effective and wastes no time. Let’s be as deliberate with the time spent in any pitstop God pulls us into.