One doesn’t necessarily need to be an expert in Formula One racing to know that a pit stop is a pause for refuelling, new tyres, repairs, mechanical adjustments, a driver change or any combination of the above. Pit stops are a key element of motorsport racing strategy that makes an important contribution to the drivers’ success on the track.
A Formula One pit stop is much more than just stopping, changing tyres and accelerating away. Pit stops bring the car to a near-complete halt and they may seem like a waste of time on a racing track. But pit stops are a time of supercharging and they equip the driver and the vehicle with what is required for the race - a preparation time designed to win.
In the Bible, we read about the life of a person who had a literal pit stop. In Genesis 37, we read the story of Joseph and his brothers.
“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it. Genesis 37:19-24
The story goes like this that Joseph, the eleventh of twelve brothers, had visions and dreams of becoming someone more powerful than his brothers and parents. Joseph shared his dreams with his family and his brothers hated him ever since, to the extent of scheming to kill one of their own. Interestingly, the scene quoted above happened in a setting where the brothers were grazing their flocks far away from home and Joseph was sent by his father all the way, with the purpose to check on their wellbeing. Instead, Joseph landed into a waterless cistern with the intention of being harmed and abandoned.
The plot further unveils, when a caravan of Ishmaelites passed by that way and the brothers chose to pull Joseph out of the pit and sell him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. The Ishmaelites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, the captain of the guards.
It must have been a nightmarish experience for Joseph. He came with good intentions to meet his brothers but was ostracised in return. It was everyone else versus him and he was eventually thrown into the pit, just short of being killed. This could have been the beginning of a flurry of emotions for Joseph perhaps - anxiety, worry, fear, anger, hatred, remorse, loneliness, self-doubt.
There are no details shared about what was going on in Joseph’s heart and mind at that time. But we could guess that it may have been a combination of some of these or more. Maybe he was in tears pleading to his brothers to let him go, maybe he was furious determining in his heart to never come back home, maybe he was shaking with fear worried about his life, maybe….
The waterless cistern in the wilderness was only the first pit in Joseph’s life. Over the years, he had to wade through more tricky situations. Though he did the right things, he ended up serving a term in jail in Egypt, where he spent many years, until God rescued him and lifted Him up to a position of the highest power in the Egyptian government, despite being a foreigner, brought in as a slave, falsely accused and sentenced to prison.
Looking back at the entire flow of events, the first pit stop was the actual turning point towards Joseph’s journey to glory. Literally and figuratively, life’s circumstances couldn’t have gotten any lower for Joseph when he became a victim of his family’s devious plans. He had no idea what was going to become of his life, orphaned by his family and sold to a foreign land. Suddenly one day he finds himself in a pit, an incident that stripped away life’s certainty and any sense of security and comfort.
Joseph’s emotions are relatable, as there are incidents that come unannounced in our life bringing life’s plans to a screeching halt, forcing a change in direction and a time of staring into the bleak unknown future.
But in Genesis 39 we read, “The Lord was with Joseph and caused all that he did to succeed in his hands." When everyone else left him, God was still with Joseph. He did not abandon him. It’s a beautiful story of eventually how Joseph very wisely governs through a harsh famine, providing for all the people, forgives his brothers and the family reunites with Joseph in Egypt.
Although life’s pit stops could be unexplainable and sometimes cruel, we can be encouraged knowing that the grand-weaver is fully in control of all circumstances. Even the ones that turn our normal world upside down and when we may be absolutely unprepared. We are called to trust a master who knows every circumstance and who can turn our sorrows into joy.
Let us sing believing,
”You are God when it seems like happenstance,
You are God in every circumstance….”
You are God by Scott Underwood