My father was a huge NASCAR fan. So, naturally, given that the farm where I grew up was only about 20 miles away, twice a year, in the spring and again in the fall, we attended the Atlanta 500 and the Dixie 500. But Sunday afternoon’s race was just the culmination of a whole week of passion for my father, who insisted on going to the time trials as well in the days leading up to each race.
Time trials, or qualifying, was where the drivers individually competed for starting positions in the race. The pole position, or starting out number one, was most coveted of all. Many a day, I watched at my father’s side as, one by one, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Darrell Waltrip, the Allison brothers, and other such giants of the sport battled it out for dominance.
But the real competition always came on Sundays. Racing alone against time throughout the week and racing against a field of competitors on Sunday afternoon were two entirely different matters.
Thus, when race day rolled around, the Jacksons packed up a bucket of my mother’s fried chicken and potato salad and a cooler full of Shasta colas and headed to the grandstand for a battle royal!
Of course, zooming around the track at time trials used very little gas and created virtually no tire or engine wear. However, such was not the case in a 500 mile race! Here, speed and technique were obviously critical. But so was something called “pitting”. The latter involved a driver deliberately pulling out of the fray and entering pit row for a pit stop.
When this happened, the car frequently got a new set of tires, a fresh tank of gas, and/or any absolutely necessary repairs. The driver also usually got a drink of water as well, before exiting pit row and reentering the race.
While the object was for the endeavor to take as short a time as possible, pit stops were nonetheless essential. Without them, no car, and no driver, could ever hope to win the race. Or even finish it. To be sure, many drivers tried to avoid a pit stop, only to run out of gas and/or blow a tire before they ever reached the finish line.
I recount all of that to share the following thought with you. In his Second New Testament Letter to young Timothy (chapter 4, verse 7), the Apostle Paul tells us that he had now faithfully “run the race”. Later, in the New Testament Book of Hebrews (chapter 12, verse 1), we as believers are encouraged to “run with endurance the race set out for us”.
In order to do this, like professional racers, we too must push forward with passion and vigor. But we must also remember that, in the process, we must invariably take a pit stop or two. If we do, we can and will gain valuable and necessary resource. But if not, we can never hope to finish, at least not in the manner which God intends.
Over the past week, my wife and I took such a personal pit stop. We went down to the lake in a neighboring state and spent the week with our family. Now, we are back, refreshed, replenished, and ready to contend for the Kingdom.
Even now, as I ramp up and begin shifting into high gear once again, I feel the difference this past week has made. To any one who may happen to be running a bit low right now, let me just say that I highly recommend a pit stop. It makes all the difference in the world!
SCRIPTURE SOURCES: https://biblehub.com/2_timothy/4-7.htm;