When I was a child, I sometimes watched NASCAR races on television with my brothers. While I wasn’t exactly an enthusiast, I did find it fascinating to see the cars speeding around the track in a frenzied dash to the finish line.
The sounds they made as they bolted closer and closer to their destination was energizing and I wondered how the drivers could maneuver so skillfully at such high speeds. They were true professionals, I concluded, and very much in control of the cars they were handling. There was one thing, however, that always puzzled my ten-year-old mind: Why do they stop during the race, allowing other drivers to get ahead of them? If the objective is to win, why pause for a pit stop?
I have learned in the many years since I posed those queries to myself that a pit stop is a very necessary part of the race. In fact, if a driver did not make these crucial stops it would be unlikely, if not impossible, for the race to be won. During the pit stop, the car is refueled, its tires are changed, and minor adjustments are made -- all while the driver waits. This process is actually very strategic and is carefully mapped out before the race even begins. If you’ve ever watched a race, you have noticed that the stops are very quick and the driver isn’t off the track for very long. Those are pit stops in car races. But what about the pit stops in our Christian walk?
As the all-knowing eternal God, the Father has carefully ordered our steps, including the inevitable (and necessary) pit stops along the way. These stops, often painful, frustrating, and lonely, allow us to refuel and change our spiritual tires. And, many times, adjustments need to be made to our attitudes, our hearts, or any number of areas in our lives. Unlike those of the NASCAR races, our pit stops are not always as brief as we would like for them to be and we don’t always see them coming. But we have the Holy Spirit leading our pit crew so we know that we will be better for the delay. If we trust Him to make whatever changes need to be made, we will find that the pit stop will make us more effective and more fit for Christian service. And, because God has already prescribed the plan and the strategy for our race, we need only follow His direction and we will see the finish line. It is what we do while waiting, however, that becomes vitally important. Yes, your posture - that is, your behavior - in the pit stop can make all the difference!
There are four essential things you must do when you find yourself in one of the pit stops of life:
Pray - Prayer is always a good idea and is something you should do each and every day, whether you are in a pit stop or not. Prayer is a powerful tool that brings our needs in touch with God’s abundant supply. It is in these times of communion with the Holy Father that you should pray for His guidance and direction. Lord, I’m in the pit stop….where do I go from here? “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NKJV).
Pursue - Pursue God and seek to understand why you’ve been stopped. Do you need to make adjustments in your attitude? Is there unconfessed sin in your life? Is there someone you need to forgive? Is there something that needs to change in your behavior? It’s been my personal experience that pit stops are an opportunity to learn an important lesson, one that I couldn’t seem to learn without the Lord stopping me in my tracks and forcing me to “get it”. Seek the Lord’s wisdom and ask Him what it is He’s trying to reveal to you in this season. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5 NKJV).
Praise - Praise God for loving you enough to pull you aside and give your life the spiritual adjustments it needs. Don’t look at the pit stop as some form of unjust punishment; rather rejoice, “for whom the Lord loves He chastens…” (Hebrews 12:6 NKJV). The Lord loves you too much and is too kind to allow you to run out of fuel or to drive around on bald tires! Praise Him for taking you out of the race long enough to get things back in order. What a mighty God we serve!
Prepare - Once the NASCAR driver has had the necessary work done to his car, he immediately gets back in the race and moves toward the finish line. In other words, he sets about the task of completing what he began and is now prepared to win. The same is true for you -- “...He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…”(Philippians 1:6 NKJV). He saved you for a reason, so once you make it out of the pit stop, prepare to be used by Him in a mighty way! Prepare to be blessed and to be a blessing to others!
We can be sure that no one is a fan of the pit stop. No one likes to be delayed or held back, but sometimes it is a critical step along the Christian journey. When you find yourself stopped along the path the Lord has ordered for you, be sure to pray, pursue, praise, and prepare. God has already mapped out the schedule and He knows exactly where to place the pit stops. Trust Him with your whole heart and you’ll be sure to win the race!