Is your life spinning out of control? Do you feel like in spite of your busyness you’re getting nowhere fast? I recently sat and watched a hamster go through an early morning routine in her luxury cage. She had all the latest gadgets a hamster could ever want, except for one thing: Freedom to come and go as she pleased. I watched as she scurried about, darting this way and that. Then she’d hop on the wheel for a few minutes, jump off, scurry about, take a drink of water and repeat the process. Fascinating to watch for sure, but accomplishing nothing. For some Christians and even most people that’s their life- A hamster's wheel. But a life in Christ offers so much more.
Jesus offered us this promise, and for those of us who have taken Him up on His offer to get off the hamster wheel. We’ve discovered that even though life is fraught with challenges we no longer have to chase our tails, so to speak, or run around aimlessly through life. We have been offered a brand new freedom and purpose for our lives.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
Isn’t that the great escape? We don’t escape life, we find life. The Zoe life, His way of being and doing. We no longer need to live a boring, stress- filled, anxious, nothing- to -show- for -it existence. He takes the labor out of laboring, the weight out of heaviness, yokes us to Himself while He does the heavy lifting and replaces anxiety with His peace. No other words brings these exchanges to light than Psalm 23. Let’s read together, but this time instead of reading it with the memorization we’ve grown accustomed to, let’s read with the awe and wonder of reading it for the first time.
“God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, You find me quiet pools to drink from. True to Your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.” Psalm 23:1-6 MSG
I’ll take that promise over the hamster wheel any day wouldn’t you? That’s His promise made, promise kept. You’ll never find rest without our Shepherd. This rat race, fast paced world offers us nothing worth hanging on to. The great exchange has an eternal guarantee. The hamster has no idea she’s in captivity, she actually believes getting on that wheel is taking her somewhere, but it’s only a routine. They say that elephants are trained by shackling their feet on a short chain. Even after the chain is removed they, as big as they are, won’t try to run away. Christians who are attached to religion and its chains have a similar problem-just as the Pharisees and Scribes during Jesus’ day. Their chain breaker walked among them and offered them true freedom and they rejected Him in the vilest possible way. All long for freedom, but not all are willing to do what it takes to be free.
Religion will keep you on the hamster wheel. Unlike the hamster I observed, we have a choice. It’s absolutely free for the asking. Jesus has already paid for our ransom. As a matter of fact He did so while we were still imprisoned and alienated from Him. He didn’t wait for us to draw near to Him, He came looking for us.
“Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him.”
Romans 5:6-8 MSG
Wow! Did you catch that last line? While we were of no use to Him. Amazing! So hop off the wheel to nowhere, welcome to the great adventure. No chains, no shackles, no stress, no anxiety, no disappointments. You don’t have to believe me, believe Him. No one who has accepted His offer has ever been disappointed. I’m one of His satisfied children.
“Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. The Scriptures provide precedent: Look! I’m setting a stone in Zion, a cornerstone in the place of honor. Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation will never have cause to regret it. To you who trust Him, He’s a Stone to be proud of, but to those who refuse to trust Him, The stone the workmen threw out is now the chief foundation stone. For the untrusting it’s... a stone to trip over, a boulder blocking the way. They trip and fall because they refuse to obey, just as predicted. But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when He arrives.”
1 Peter 2:4-12 MSG
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
November 26, 2021