I have certain expectations while I am exercising. Most importantly, I don’t like to be talked to. In a close second is that I don’t like to be stopped for any reason. I am ultra-focused on the finish line, because once I get there, the death that I’m dying will be over. I hate working out!
Lately, I have taken to running. I needed to exercise the dog before work, getting out as much of his pent-up, country dog energy before leaving him in a backyard kennel for hours while I work. I also needed to find something that works for me and serves to also destress while kicking my butt. Running was the natural solution to meeting all of these needs.
Bleu and I get up early to get our run in before I get ready for work. Let me just stop right here and say I never saw that happening. I like – no, LOVE – sleep. But sacrifices have to be made some times and it was inevitable. Morning is the only time I feel really motivated to move. After a long day of work, and homemaking chores afterward, exercising at night is the last thing I am capable of sticking to. Evenings are so busy, my body so wiped out, and my bed calling, all of which make exercising in the evening a total failure.
So most mornings, I get up, down a glass of water to loosen up my muscles and prepare them for the beating they’re about to take, grab my ferocious dog’s leash and head out. After a few minutes of walking, we hit a fast jogging pace and settle into it. It’s just he and I, and my several expectations, out for a morning jog.
Well, mostly. Do you know who else get up really early in the morning? Critters. In our neck of the woods, it’s mainly rabbits. Cute little white-tailed bunny rabbits that any hunting dog would be itching to catch. A hunting dog … like my half-beagle, half-shepherd who thinks the world is his playground, but also has deep insecurities that make him either really afraid or really unfriendly, depending on how close his mom is in the moment.
Obviously, we have an issue every time we see a rabbit. Which means we have a problem every time we go running. We see at least five rabbits every morning, which means there are five times every time I exercise that my expectations are tossed violently aside and my arm ripped violently out of socket. My loyal running companion forgets momentarily that he is on assignment and heads off to fulfill his innate responsibility to rid the world of Peter Cottontail’s endless progeny.
It’s so frustrating. In the middle of my dying, my dog is just beginning to really live! Here I am trying to discipline myself and make a change for the better, for me and the dog, and he’s pulling hard against the leash in a moment of panicked excitement, bucking all discipline to catch a rabbit. A chase that will most likely be futile. He most likely will not ever catch a rabbit, but that wouldn’t keep him from trying.
You know what happened, right? This … for two weeks, until the Lord pointed something out to me. “Chasing rabbits. You’ve heard that, right? It’s the opposite of discipline and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It’s the opposite of knowing the will of God. It’s following every little thing that hops across your path because you suddenly feel alive in it, but finding out later that it was pointless and fleeting. And it’s the devil’s game to keep you distracted from doing the good works created by God specifically for you.”
Chasing rabbits. That’s pretty profound, isn’t it? With that word, I had to examine myself and consider if I, like Bleu, have been chasing rabbits instead of following the path God marked out for me. Have I been running my race, or have I gotten so far off course that I can’t see His plan anymore? Instead of a leash, I have been given a free will, so God might give me a gentle nudge to keep me in the direction He wants me going but He doesn’t yank me back if I get too antsy and belligerent. He lets me wander, giving me the wisdom that I have strayed and beckoning me back. But He is too much of a gentleman to force me to do His will. We always hear it taught that we’ve been specially crafted for a purpose, which I don’t dispute. But I do believe we are in error if we believe that no one else can fulfill our calling. God used a donkey to restrain a prophet and Jesus said the rocks could cry out in our place. All of creation was designed to serve God’s purpose and it will be fulfilled whether we do our part or not. Remember what Mordecai told Esther? “If you remain silent now, help for Israel will come from somewhere else.”
Chasing rabbits is the devil’s game. It’s Satan’s way of keeping us undisciplined, unrestrained, and unable to do what our Father has called us to do. It also leaves us unfulfilled and unhappy because we are continuously looking at the promise and asking God why we aren’t living our purposes, but all the while spending our energy on dead-end endeavors that God never told us to do. We wonder why it takes years for us, and months for others. Look at the trip to Canaan. They spent forty-years chasing common sense instead of eleven days following in the footprints of God’s miraculous provision and promise. How many years have we wasted in this way?
My spirit is in a fit right now! It’s time to stop chasing rabbits! It’s time to believe the promises of God are yes and amen, it’s time to believe that God is for us and not against us. It’s time to believe that we can do all that God has called us to do because of His power that is so mightily at work within us. It’s time to stop listening to the world’s wisdom about how to get there and start listening to God’s guidance. We need to start putting one foot in front of the other on the path He marked out for us before we were even born and stop turning our head to the right and left looking around. We are tempting the devil to distract us and he will do it! Focus on God. Focus on His word. Focus on His directives. Do what your hands find to do instead of chasing down the next big thing and just see if God doesn’t fulfill His promises to you. I believe this is a Rhema word, for me at least.
Father, help me to be disciplined and steadfastly focused on you. Fill me with the faith to believe in all that you have spoken to me, and give me the strength and longevity to see it through, for your honor and glory. Use me as you said you would. Help me to stop chasing rabbits.