A rabbit that won’t break down

Published 5:12 pm Friday, December 4, 2020

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The late Dallas Willard, American professor of philosophy, tells of 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 says that he thinks 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 prestige 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.

Some time ago, an aspiring television star was given a shot at a network series. He went to the studios, saw his name on a parking place, found the crew treating him like royalty, and admired the star on his dressing room door. The series pilot was shot in five days, but television executives rejected it. When the young actor left, no one said good-bye, the name was gone from his parking place, and his dressing room was locked.

“All the success was like smoke,” he said. That’s the sound of a rabbit breaking down.

C.S. Lewis gives us this insight. He says, “0ur 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.”

So what are the characteristics of a rabbit that won’t break down?

First, it’s something that transcends individual life!

This thought might best be expressed by the phrase, “I want to leave the world a better place.”

In my opinion, the key statement in Rick Warren’s best selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” is the opening statement. Warren correctly states, “It’s not about you.”

Then he says, “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness, etc. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God.”

I repeat, it’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s about God and making this world a better place.

Second, another characteristic of a rabbit that won’t break down is that it’s something that identifies with the larger context!

The apostle Paul states to us, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).

Paul is telling us that we should see everything, life and living, against the background of eternity. As people of faith, we are no longer to live as if this world is all that matters. We are to view things not as they appear to humankind but as they appear to God.

So until the kingdom of God fully comes, how do we live now?

We seek to live into the kingdom and to move further and further into the reality of that kingdom. And it always has to do with our practice of justice, mercy, reconciliation, peace and compassion.

Third, another characteristic of a rabbit that won’t break down is having a goal or purpose big enough to live by! Someone asked, “What is the greatest thing?” The reply given was, “To know one’s purpose in life.”

As Writer Parker J. Palmer, suggests, “Taking on big tasks worth doing, tasks like spreading love, peace and justice.

And that means getting beyond culture’s obsession with effectiveness and the bottom line and striving toward faithfulness to the higher things and making the world better.

One more time, everybody needs a goal or purpose big enough to live by.

Everybody needs a rabbit that won’t break down.