Brady: We all need that rabbit to chase

Published 8:10 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

The late Dallas Willard, longtime professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California, tells a favorite story about the dog races in Florida. He says that they train these dogs to chase an electric rabbit, and one night the rabbit broke down and the dogs caught it. But they didn’t know what to do with it. The dogs were just leaping around, yelping and biting one another. They were just totally confused about what was happening.

Then Willard points out that’s a picture of what happens to all sorts of people who catch the rabbit in their life. Whether it’s wealth or fame or beauty or a bigger house, or whatever, the prize isn’t what they thought it would be. When I read that story I immediately thought that everybody needs a goal or purpose big enough to live by. And they do! Everybody needs a rabbit that won’t break down.

I read about a tennis champion who was once asked how she felt about defeating some of the truly great players of the game. She replied, “Any big win means that all the suffering, practicing and traveling are worth it. I feel like I own the world.”

When asked how long that feeling lasts, she replied, “About two minutes.” Can you hear it? The rabbit is breaking down.

C.S. Lewis gives us insight. He says, “Our heavenly father has provided many delightful inns for us along our journey, but he takes great care to see that we do not mistake any of them for home.”

I repeat, everybody needs a goal or purpose big enough to live by. Everybody needs a rabbit that won’t break down. Perhaps Paul helps us when he says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). Paul is suggesting that people of faith see everything in the light and background of eternity. God’s standards, not humankind’s standards, are to be the norm.

So what are the characteristics of a rabbit that won’t break down? In this article, I only want to mention two of those characteristics. First, it’s something that transcends the individual life. This thought might best be expressed in the phrase, “I want to leave the world a better place.”

In my opinion, the key statement in Rick Warren’s best-selling book of a few years back, “The Purpose Driven Life,” is the opening statement. Warren correctly states, “It’s not about you.” Then he states, “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind or even your happiness. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God.”

The life of faith is a life of community. Jesus called 12 men to follow him. I’m sure it wasn’t long before each one realized that he was stuck with 11 other people with whom he had not chosen to live his life. Further, they were told to love one another as Jesus loved them. It must have been a challenge as they ate together, and walked together every day for three years. But they learned that there can be no solitary  faith. As soon as we begin a relationship with God, he begins to move us in the direction of the people around us. His question to all of us is, “Where is your brother, [sister]? (Genesis 4:9).

So, until the kingdom of God fully comes, how do we live now? We seek to live into the kingdom and tomove further and further into the reality of that kingdom.

And it always has to do with our practice of justice, righteousness, mercy, reconciliation and compassion. To be sure, this is certainly another rabbit that won’t break down.

Hal Brady operates Hal Brady Ministries in Decatur with the stated goal of presenting the good news of Jesus and offering encouragement in positive ways.