A symbol can sometimes convey an idea better than a thousand words of explication. This is what Pastor Rob Fuquay does when he uses the image of racing flags to discuss different aspects of Christian faith in his book, “Take the Flag: Following God’s Signals in the Race of Your Life.”
Sometimes, language gets in the way of faith. The unique speech used within the Christian Church—often called “Christianese”—can be confusing for those new to the faith. Phrases like “backsliding,” “soul winning,” and “hedge of protection” continually muddy the cognitive waters for those wishing to better understand their beliefs.
Fuquay deftly passes this language barrier by using easily-remembered symbols that many readers will be familiar with, or will easily understand: the multicolored flags used to send signals to NASCAR drivers during races. He explains that, because early racing was loud and sent masses of dust into the air, brightly colored flags were the best way to communicate with drivers.
The everyday world of Fuquay’s readers may not be clouded with dust or rent by the sound of 850-horsepower engines, but it is packed with misinformation, confusing communication, and difficult ideas. In response to this, Fuquay uses racing flags to clear things up.
Fuquay links the green flag, which begins a race, to the beginning of a Christian’s journey of faith.
The yellow flag, which indicates caution, he connects the idea of heeding God’s warnings.
The blue flag, which means “yield,” is used to remind Christians that they must respect the choices and needs of those around them.
The red flag indicates a delay in the race, and Fuquay uses it to speak of the unwanted interruptions that inevitably occur in life, and how readers might benefit from those delays.
The dreaded black flag means a disqualification and removal from the race, and Fuquay uses this image to talk about how mistakes can take readers out of their personal race toward a relationship with God, and how to rectify these errors.
The white flag, which means the final lap is upon a racer, is used as a jumping-off point to talk about how Christians should live as they near their own “finish line,” in their relationships with God.
Finally, the checkered flag signals victory. Fuquay uses this to talk about how God wants Christians to experience their own “wins.”
In the end, Pastor Fuquay challenges readers to think carefully through these aspects of their faith, and his work stands to help them to more easily identify—and correctly respond to—the “flags” that arise in their lives. The well-used symbolism of “Take the Flag” is set to help many churchgoers score a victory in their relationships with God.
Special to Patheos from Wesley Baines