Oct 28, 2007

Free the Bunnies!

We have been taking care of Natasha's bunnies while she's out of town for a while. They are usually kept in this small cage in a small apartment because they don't behave themselves very well. Various methods of behavior modification have been used with them, but they still chew on all the electrical cords, eat the carpet and the moldings, and hide Natasha's jewelry in their cage.

Natasha warned me not to let the bunnies out without direct supervision, but I felt so sorry for them being all cooped up in that tiny cage, so Joshua and I devised a plan to free the bunnies! Our kitchen, breakfast nook, and hallway are all tiled, so we thought they couldn't hurt the floor there much, even if they weren't litter boxed trained. We don't have any electrical cords on the floor in this area, but we do have moldings. There are five doorways or openings to this rather large area, so we had to be very creative in finding things to effectively block the doorways, but still allow us to be able to get in and out. After several tries, we had a built-in, indoor pen for the bunnies.

We couldn't wait to let them go free! We opened the door to their cage and waited for them to go run and hide in a corner somewhere, as animals often do when they are in a strange place. But they didn't budge. They just sat there. And sat there. What was wrong with them? They had their freedom, but they just stayed in their cage.

After a while, the more adventurous spotted bunny came out to explore her new world. She took everything in very slowly, sniffing around here and there, and cautiously proceeding around her new habitat. She climbed into the fruit baskets and sniffed all the fruit. She poked around in the grocery bags in the laundry room. She explored the bottom shelf of the pantry. She checked out all the litter boxes. There was so much to do!

The fuzzy bunny would poke her head out once in a while, and then pull herself quickly back in. She just wouldn't come out of that cage. After about an hour, we finally had to remove the bunny from her cage. She had no desire to go out into the real world. She was perfectly satisfied right where she was. But eventually, she too explored the world around her.

We quickly saw that the bunnies were most interested in finding something to chew on, and they didn't want their wooden carrots! Remembering that I used to solve the chewing problem with puppies by giving them raw turkey necks and raw bones to gnaw on, we decided to give the bunnies carrots -- real ones. They sniffed them for a while, trying to decide if they would like them or not, but it didn't take long before they were devouring them. And we have had no problems with the bunnies chewing on inappropriate things ever since.

But it's been several days now since the bunnies have had their freedom and the spotted bunny decided that she would like much more freedom, so she made her escape from her already enlarged world. In fact, she escaped several times today, so tomorrow we will have to enforce her boundaries a little stronger.

As I observed the bunnies, I couldn't help but think how much they mirrored my own spiritual walk lately. A year ago, I was in a small little cage called Legalism. The walls and doors were locked very tight and I didn't leave that cage for many years. In fact, that cage seemed to grow smaller and smaller throughout the years.

And then one day, a retired pastor named Mike came along and opened the door for me; he taught me from the Scriptures that I was deep in bondage. I couldn't see it though -- not for a long time. But the door was open, waiting for me to step out into freedom. I didn't want that freedom. Even after I understood that I was no longer under the Law, I was afraid to step out into the real world. I would poke my head out once in a while to look at the real world, but it was a scary place.

I remember when I finally took that first step out of legalism. I was so surprised! It wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be like. God didn't strike me dead after all! And after I took one step, it was a little easier to take another and another, exploring my new world around me.

But sometimes that new world gets scary, like when my disabled daughter wants to pick up the bunnies, and they go running back into the safety and security of their cage again. Sometimes freedom from the Law is scary for me and I just want to run back into the safety of my legalism again.

But something prevents me from doing that. Something prevents those bunnies from staying in their old cage very long either anymore -- carrots. Now that the bunnies have the right food, they don't need to go looking for a substitute to chew on. And when I have the right spiritual food -- God's Word in all its truth -- I don't need to look for substitutes to chew on either.

I've tried the substitute of patriarchy. It was hard to swallow. I've tried the substitute of Gothardism. It was a heavy burden. I've tried the substitute of legalism, but that pushed me away from the two Greatest Commandments. I've tried the substitute of theonomy, but that put a veil over my heart and I couldn't find the truth of God's Word. I've tried the substitute of Messianic Judaism, but God called me to be a Christian, not an Israelite.

Along the way, I've tested my wings of freedom and found that I overstepped my boundaries now and then. Others have been kind enough to help show me my biblical boundaries again.

Being in bondage was safe and easy, but God has so much more for us in the freedom of His grace. The bunnies haven't learned any spiritual lessons while they are here, but I'm so glad that God can use the natural things of this world to teach us what He wants us to learn. After a while, the bunnies will both enjoy their freedom and their carrots and be content with their boundaries. I hope I can say the same for myself.


Prairie Momma said...

BEAUTIFUL!! How easy it is to look out through our caged walls and not see that we are truly confined. Our family has recently even begun to find freedom after being released from the boundaries of the "typical" church as we are now home churching. I can't believe how God has grown me in this past year as well as my family! We've begun to question, in a good way, what we believe and why in order to share salvation - not to defend that our way is right. That's so different from what we've done in the past. I love the analogy to the bunnies and saw so much of my life in the slow emergence of the bunnies. Slow, maybe, but it's wonderful to be free and worship the One true Creator as He's called us to do - in order to glorify Him and share His wonderful gift with others.

Tasha said...

ok, very funny story about my bunnies but.....why can't you just put up a funny story about my bunnies without paralleling it to spiritualism? Why can't it just be about the bunnies?
And, I do feed them real carrots and veggies everyday, they just prefer putting their lives in danger by chewing the electrical cords. They are very dumb bunnies.

Jen said...

Natasha, I'm not one to look for a spiritual lesson behind every story, you know that. But every time I look at those bunnies, I just see something of myself, so I decided to write about it.

The gates are growing taller each day, trying to keep those bunnies from escaping!

Rebecca said...

As I was reading the bunny story, I immediately saw the spiritual parallels --- even before you mentioned them, Jen. I guess I never realized how much I'm like a bunny!

But the "real food", I think, is not just God's Word, important as that is. The real food is Jesus...the Bread of Life...the Living Water.

Thanks for this story. As you know, I could relate all too well.

Jen said...

"The real food is Jesus...the Bread of Life...the Living Water."

Thank you for reminding me, Rebecca. You are so right about that. And whether you know it or not, it is because of your story that I first began to question if I was a Pharisee. You were the one God used to show me my legalism. That week of reading your story was one of the most difficult times in my life, but God knew I needed to go through that so that He could set me free.

I still have a lot to work through, but at least I know I'm on the right path now!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful wonderful post. I can relate in so many ways.